I've finally started writing this chapter! I hope that you'll be pleased, and will forgive me about the big delay. This is my gift:

Don't cry

Chapter 17

"So I find you here. You won't escape me again, just as no one will save you anymore. Nothing is stopping me now." Sasuke smiled to his enemy, his eyes shining with excitement through his long, black hair.

Gaara's breath shortened, ragged and discontinued. He longed to throw himself at the Uchiha's throat, to imprison him with his sand. The Uchiha would try to wiggle his way out, but it would be useless; no one could escape the solid grasp of his sand. The only freedom left is death. With an ultimate cry, Sasuke Uchiha would disappear of the surface of this earth, crushed into nothing except small parts splashing the ground. The silence following his death would be thick and sickening, eerie. This time, this murder would be more than satisfactory. It wouldn't not only shut the rising anxiety in his heart and his throat. It would be something ecstatic, important, because the Uchiha showed just how much he was strong and willing to battle him. He wasn't just any ordinary ninja; he was Uchiha Sasuke, a power hungry man and an enemy threatening his existence, someone after his life.

Still, a voice nagged him in the back of his head, a voice that couldn't just shut up and leave him be. Gaara glanced on the side, his eyes darting back and forth between the Uchiha and the strange girl that he pushed back earlier. A small part of him still remained, despite the demonic influence eating away his personality, a bit of himself that cared. He closed his eyes, annoyed and menacingly growling. To care, what was that? Since when did he care if he hurt Her, a foolish girl that tried to approach him to understand him, of all people? Did they ever love one another, or did he make up this memory too? Did those few months ever existed? He felt like he just lived them without actually living, breathed the air without feeling the air entering his lungs. It was too unreal; he could have never cared for someone else. And yet, the warmth of her body still burned his arms cruelly, mourning and crying over the sudden coldness.

She was a threat to his life. The only way for him to stay sane was to reject any kind of affection because if he didn't, all this love would hurt him in the end. The wounds of his heart were still terribly fresh; he didn't want to add more fuel to the fire. This girl had to go away, vanish forever.

Without realising, his attention had become focused on Hinata. She was still against the trunk of the tree, barely conscious. Sasuke, having lost his opponent's interesting, followed Gaara's gaze and saw Hinata. He frowned, unpleased. This girl would never stop to be a nuisance. She buried her own grave by protecting this boy.

"She helped you to escape, you know. By doing so, she betrayed her village, which is a serious crime. Not only that, but she carries some of our village's secrets that can be extracted from her brain before she dies. What is even worse, all the techniques coming from her family, for instance the Byakugan, a technique that is praised everywhere, could be delivered to the enemy if they search through her head. For that reason, she will be chased, tracked like animal by our special force, Anbu. Probably she knew all this when she decided to help you, but she went ahead anyway." Sasuke crossed his arms together, snorting. "She dug her own grave, and for what? You? It wasn't really worth it. You'll be dead before she wakes up!"

Without warning, the Uchiha sprung from the branch he stood for and flew towards Gaara, kunais at hand. He threw a few in the sand nin's direction and as expected, a wall of sand rose in front of his opponent, blocking the attack effectively. A similar Sasuke came out of hiding, closer to Gaara. Running quickly, he succeeded to come near to Gaara and tried to hit him. His fist connected with sand, but when the clone looked up, it wasn't what he expected at all.

With a frustrated growl, Gaara sent the clone flying, using his transformed arm. The real Sasuke paralysed on the spot, and landed of a branch, watching in awe the freakish being in front of him. It's that eye… That eye I saw before. Faster than his own clone, the monster that Gaara had half-transformed into jumped towards him. Everything about it horrified Sasuke; the abnormal arm, the drool dripping down the devil's chin and especially, especially that yellow eye that could belong only to one thing: a hungry animal.

The extended arm finally reached its prey, crashing the branch into pieces of wood. The force of the collision raised a cloud of dust, blowing Hinata's hair in the process. Her throat irritated, she coughed and brought weakly a hand to her mouth. She kept her eyes shut close, until the wind finally died and she felt it was safe to open them finally. Disoriented, she didn't understand why there were so many trees around. Her body protested when she got up, but she ignored the pain and steadied herself, leaning on the trunk. "What… what is happening?"

Sasuke panted while the smoke fell on the ground, while he was hidden behind a trunk where the other boy couldn't see him. What kind of monster was he?! He glanced behind, studying the being and its next move, and couldn't help but tense when he heard the sand ninja called out for him furiously. The hideous hand found him and speeded in his directions, missing by very little its target. Sasuke hid again cowardly, surprised by the creature's strength. Gaara searched with his eyes through the smoke for Sasuke.

"Are you scared of me, Uchiha Sasuke? Are you afraid of my existence?! Come out! Uchiha Sasuke! You are my prey!"

By now, Hinata had recovered her lost memories and she could only contemplate the roaring monster. Gaara, her Gaara, had lost his mind, abandoned to his loneliness and his fears. She knew that she should hide like Sasuke before Gaara saw her, but she couldn't bring to do it, didn't want to. His pain was so obvious. She could see it with the gifted sight of the Hyuga. It struck her so hard that her eyes became wet. This demon represented all his hatred. If she had told him sooner that she loved him with all her heart, maybe he would hurt so much, maybe he wouldn't feel so rejected if only she hasn't been scared of him when she saw his true nature.

Gaara wasn't one bit annoyed to look for Uchiha. It was quite fun actually, and exhilarating. It was even more hilarious that Uchiha thought he could escape him. With barely one swing of his arm, Gaara could ravage a tree and he would, until he finds the one Sasuke was hiding behind. Still, what he said bothered him. This girl that he hit earlier, this Hinata, did she really sacrifice her life for him? It didn't make any sense. Everyone had run away from him, terrorised and disgusted by the evil being inside him. He came to enjoy the fear; it made him feel alive finally, after all those cold years that he felt numb. However, he remembered a time that he didn't need scaring and killing people to prove his existence's worth. He only needed to hold this girl in his arms, smell the flowery perfume in her neck and he could be at peace. Her arms always hugged him tight while she buried her head into his chest and he felt so grateful that someone like her showered him with so much love in this dark world.

But, but where was she now?! It couldn't be true. His mother didn't want him, his uncle hated him, and everyone else ran away from him. There was no one left… right?

He turned around, panicking, and saw her, standing still while watching him. Frustrated, he hit the tree next to the one he stood on. The force of the impact created wing that blew in the girl's hair. She closed her eyes a moment, but didn't move; not to protect herself, nor to escape. When the wind died down, she stared at him once again, eyes full of apprehension. And then, she started to cry. He was stunned. What was wrong with her? Was she so scared of him that she couldn't hold her tears? Yes, that must be it, she was afraid of him like all the rest of them. Her quiet sobs stirred something inside him. She had to shut up, she shouldn't be crying! I don't want to hurt her, his mind screamed, and another voice, much louder, answered him: then I'll tear her head off her shoulders and get it over with! It sounded utterly insane, but he was going along with it anyway. He had no more moralities, no more reasoning. He was just a killing machine with the sole purpose to save his existence. She wouldn't fool him with her tears running down her cheeks, she was faking it!

"Stop crying, you weakling! I'm not buying it already! You're too pathetic to satiate my thirst. Get out of here!"

Hinata flinched at the sound of his harsh words. He was giving her the same speech as the first time they met, blinded by his hatred. She couldn't stop crying, no matter how he yelled at her. She didn't know what to do, as usual. Here they were, Gaara half transformed into a demon and her trembling in front of his power. An invisible wall separated them, it seemed, and she couldn't reach him. The true Gaara wouldn't want things to go this way, but he was trapped inside himself while she felt so helpless. Still, she couldn't just leave like that. Kankuro and Temari's sacrifices would be in vain if she did that, and mostly, she wouldn't bear to like Gaara to his personal torment. He needed to see that he didn't have to kill anymore. He had another reason to live.

A low growl escaped Gaara's mouth. He grew irritated by her behaviour. She wasn't budging out of there any time soon. "I said to go away!" He threw himself towards her and saw her step back, but it was already too late. He was already standing in front of her, barely distanced by a feet. She gave a little space between them, bringing her small fists to her face to cover her mouth.

The drool still flowed in quantity. Now that he was near her, Hinata could see how the skin fused with sand. She never saw anything like it and it scared her. Yet, he still had some of his red hair, and one blue eye. Gaara was still there. Suddenly, he spoke and she shuddered. "You are an idiot. Crying won't save you." His yellow eye shone.

She lifted her head and wiped a few tears. "I-I don't want to be saved."

He looked at her curiously. "Why's that?"

"…I made you s-sad, I d-disappointed you! Y-you loved me, but I didn't accept you when I saw t-this arm. But Gaara, this arm never changed my feelings towards you. I lov…" Gaara slapped her with his human hand, and her head flew. She fell on her knees in front of him, dazed. Blood fell on the tree, and she touched her split lower lip. She turned her face to him.

Gaara still held his hand in the air, his teeth clenching. His chest lifted and lowered as he breathed deeply to calm himself, to no avail. She was going too far with this. "Don't you dare say such things! Don't you lie boldly right in front of me!"

His rage was tangible, like sparkles of electricity in the air. Hinata looked at him helplessly, trembling. She felt torn between her fear and her love for him. She couldn't escape when he was in this state, even if it seemed very likely that he would kill her in the end. And she couldn't support this idea. Dying was one matter, but dying without saving him, she couldn't bear it at all. If only her death could solve everything, become a sacrifice, than her existence would have had a meaning. So she closed her eyes, breathing for the last time before everything ended. These were the last moments of her life, she thought. It came to her that Gaara was right on one thing. He would really be the one that will kill her. This memory somehow reassured her, maybe because it brought her back to a time when they were both happy together. She chuckled gently and smiled in peace. "You were right; you are really the one that will take my life. I'm glad because I wanted no one else to do it."

"Wh-what?" He didn't understand what she meant. He didn't remember ever saying something like that to her… or did he?

It'll all be over, I'll get rid of you personally, don't worry. No one else than me has the right to kill you, I swear it.

They stood in a tree, once, watching people below. It was the first time they met willingly, out of their own accord, and he said that. No one else than me has the right to kill you, I swear it. She didn't just make this up.

Gaara couldn't keep the voice shut anymore. He will explode; the demon will tear his skin apart to get out. How did it come to this? Why this girl was on her knees now, pleading him to end her life? The thought of killing her repulsed to the very core of his being. She was more important than anyone else, although he didn't understand why. There was something clouding his memories so he couldn't quite place who she was. He needed to know though! Time was flying; it was too late. He couldn't the demon anymore!

His right arm, transformed into sand, rose in the air against his own will, kunai at hand. Gaara struggled against it with all his strength, arguing interiorly with Shukaku. No, you can't kill her! I-I.. and the raccoon cut him straight, Shut up, you wimp!

The hand began to fall down towards her throat, wanting to slice it open, and then stopped halfway there. I-I will be the one that will take her life and no one else, not you of all people! You understand?!

Shukaku roared violently, its yellow eyes shining in anger.

The small weapon struck her at her stomach, after struggling in mid air. Hinata let out a surprised gasp, eyes opening wide. At the same time, panicked shouts called her name frantically. One was Sasuke's, the other Sakura's. She noted how Sasuke's was filled, like his team mate's, with fear. Wasn't he the one that accused her of treason? Then why was he worrying about her?

The pain began to spread and her body slowly huddled on it itself. Her hands found the sand and she followed it, before she fell on the kunai and wrapped her weak fingers around it, looking up to the one that stabbed her. Naruto also showed up, sounding desperate as he cried out her name loudly. She knew that she could count on him.

She watched Gaara, whom eyes have turned very void. His face froze in a horrified look, contorted. Hinata frowned and tried to reach his face with one of her hands despite her weakness and pain. No matter how much it hurt, thank you Gaara, for killing me. She observed his chest lift irregularly, and tears formed at the corner of her eyes before following the curves of her cheeks. I-I love you!

She felt colder now and her legs didn't have any strength left. She tightened her grip around him, suddenly afraid of letting go of him. Life was leaving her, but he had to hear. She couldn't fight against death. "G-G-Gaara, fight t-to protect the ones y-you love, fight th-the demon!" She coughed violently, her fingers finally slipping away from him. She fell, murmuring almost inaudibly "Thank you…"

With a loud sound, her limp body collided with the wood. Then silence took over for a short while. Naruto screamed again, this time for good. "Hinata! Hinata!!" He ran to the two ninjas and bent down, taking her inert body in his arms.

"Hinata, wake up! Hinata!" It was no use, however. She was not responding anymore. He turned instead towards the one responsible for this. "You, what did you do to her?!" Naruto glared menacingly at Gaara, ignoring the boy's frozen posture. "She liked you a lot and you attack her! What's wrong with you, don't you like her too?!"

Naruto's words reached Gaara's heart, breaking slowly his shell. He shut his eyes closed to keep the little control that he gained on himself for now. What could he say to this brat in his defence? He just killed her out of love, he didn't want the demon to get the pleasure "I-I loved her, I swear." He did not look at the blond; he didn't to see the girl that he murdered, to se her pale skin drained from the pink colors.

Naruto cried "Then why didn't you protect her?!"

Why? He had only succeeded to deflect the demon's blow and bottle him, but not for long. He remembered, while he held firmly the kunai into the girl's stomach, who she was and it relieved him a little. She was Hinata Hyuga, heiress of the Hyuga Clan, weak and fragile, a girl that had little self-esteems and who fought to become stronger. She befriended him, despite his cruelty towards her, before becoming the most important person to him in the world. She lent him a hand when he needed it, enveloping his heart with her unique kindness. And right after, he stabbed her. I didn't protect her. I failed…

His whole body trembled of anger, losing his nerve. Naruto held Hinata tighter to him, watching Gaara transforming fully in front of him. He wasn't about to say it, but he was afraid of seeing what a demon actually looked like; what he could've become if he didn't have people like his team or Hinata. He would've lost his soul long ago, just like this guy.

The sand gathered to Gaara's feet and climbed all the way to his neck, his shell of sand shattering to pieces to fuse with along with it. He was losing the battle against Shukaku badly. The demon would gain control over his body. Why did it bother him? He was back to the beginning, before he came to Konoha, before he heard Hinata crying in the forest, with no one to love and no one loving him. The demon could win, he didn't care anymore. He was giving up. In a tearful scream, he shouted his last sentence as Gaara. "I loved her!" Then he completely disappeared, and Shukaku took his place.

Wind blew gently, caressing her face. She opened her eyes slowly, still num and at the same, terribly aware of her wound. Just above her, she saw Naruto and realised that he was holding her in his arms, leaving no space between them. Despite herself, she blushed slightly, still shy around him even though she didn't love him that way anymore. He didn't notice that she awoke; his attention was attached towards something else. She followed his gaze and immediately, her heart clutched. Yellow animal eyes watched her with lust; she recognized them quickly. Gaara didn't understand.

Weakly, she tried to talk. "Naruto… Naruto…" It hurt all over her body, paralysing her. She called out for him again until he heard her. Caringly, he struck one of her hands and listened carefully. "Yes?"

She thanked the Gods that he was so calm in a situation like this, knowing his personality. "Naruto… please show him…"

It was hard for her to speak. Her voice had reduced to a whisper and Naruto had to lean his head towards her lips. Hinata summoned her courage and continued. "S-show him… that there are people who care about him… and that he needs to fight to protect them… j-just like you do… Show him that he can love… A-and when you win, p-please bring me next to him…"

Naruto looked down at her unsurely. "Hinata… I don't know if I can fight him. He's so strong…"

She rarely saw Naruto hesitate towards something and it surprised her every time because she always saw him as someone that wasn't afraid to do things and always hard-working, but he was human like everyone else, so he sometimes doubted. "I… I trust you… with all my heart…" He stared at her seriously and nodded. Then he laid her body softly and got up on his feet. "Thank you, Hinata. I'm glad that we are friends. I'll help me, I swear!"

Right after that, he was off to go fight. She could finally rest a little, until he came to get her. She truly put all her trust into him. He would save Gaara for her…

Her throat ached of dryness, while the rest of her body dripped of sweat. Each step staved in the sand and in return, the sand accumulated in her shoes that rubbed painfully against her feet. Just as Temari had recommended her before leaving Konoha, she bought a cape to cover herself from the wind in the desert and until now, it fulfilled its purpose. The sun had reached its zenith.

Despite the hot temperature that she could bear so little, despite the fact that she wasn't sure where she was going anymore and everything else, Hinata continued to go on, motivated by her growing excitation. I will see him, I will see him, she recited like a prier. Long years of separation finally paid off, and she was finally allowed to join him, as a Konoha representative.

Gaara, her Gaara, she was finally able to see him after 2 years and a half, after that terrible fight… she had lost consciousness right after Naruto left her, but was brought back to reality when two strong arms lifted her. She had thought it was weird because has been so delicate when he held her while now, he wasn't careful at all. And quickly, she understood why. "It's over, Hinata." Sasuke spoke softly to her ear. She heard a small 'hmph!' but paid no attention to it. Instead, she asked Sasuke to bring her to Gaara, but found that her voice had abandoned her. They began moving from trees to trees and she panicked, still lost. "I know. I'm bringing you to him. He's on the ground, over there."

She didn't even tried to look at where he was pointing and simply waited. Finally, they came to a halt and Sasuke prepared to put her on the ground. Her heart beat uncommonly fast, as she imagined his state. Did Naruto kill him? Was he able to hear her?

Sasuke laid her on the ground not so gently and immediately, hinata turned her head to the left, where she had spotted the end of his white scarf. She gasped in surprise when she discovered blue eyes watching her carefully. "G-Gaara…"

He waited a moment before opening his mouth. "Hinata… so it's true… you're still alive." She felt suddenly moved by the emotion in his eyes. "y-yes, I am. I-I…"

"Don't say a thing, Hinata." Gaara said and then simply looked at her, grateful. She did the same, until she sensed someone stroking her hair. It was Temari who smiled gently to her. The blond kunoichi kissed the younger ninja on the forehead. "I knew that you could do it."

Kankuro's voice reached her from afar, relieving her. She has been afraid that the two of them died in the battle. "Hey Temari, hurry up and grab Gaara. We have to leave right now."

What? Right away? A-and why didn't he mention to take her with them too? Did he mean…?

"Hinata…" She flinched at the tone of his weak voice and turned her head around, panic rising in her chest. "N-no, no!"

Gaara brought with difficulty his hand to hers and hold it firmly. His warmth troubled Hinata even more. Was she going to lose him now, now that they could be together? "Please don't cry Hinata. I can't stand it." She sniffed now, unable to hold the tears back anymore.

"It would mean danger for you if we brought you to our village, after what the sand and the sound had done to Konoha. Please stay here until we're allowed to be together. I promise you… I promise you that I won't abandon you here. You have good friends that will protect you, no matter what. Nothing bad can happen."

Slowly, she nodded because she understood what he was saying; soon, they would meet and this time, it would be for good. Each of them had loyalty towards their village, duties, and they had to face their mistakes. "Soon?"

Gaara looked at her with longing. "Yes."


Temari quickly brushed away a few tears that had formed in the corner of her eyes and with regret, picked up Gaara in her arms. Hinata had a last request and pulled Temari's leg. "What is it?" asked the blond ninja.

"Gaara… I love you."

Knakuro yelled another time, this time louder, and Temari wasted no time anymore. She jumped into the air, landing in a tree and ran. The wind brought to Hinata Gaara's answer. "I love you too…"

She had to face a lot of obstacle ever since to be in this desert today. Her crime was quickly reported, by none other than Sasuke, and she wasn't allowed to do missions anymore until her case would be judged by the new Hokage. She was barely allowed to go outside, except for the Third's funerals. She cried honestly over his picture this day. She felt like she has lost someone important, a grandfather that has always looked after her since her birth, which was true. She wished that he would have been the one to hear her case. She was sure that he would have understood her feelings. For a long time, she became absorbed by fear and worry and only her friends supported her through all this, especially Naruto and her team mates.

The day came when the Fifth Hokage showed up and she was allowed once again to take missions along with her team or different people. A lot had happened since then.

And her love for him did not weaken ever.

She trained and fought, hoping that one day, they would be reunited again. She wrote to him often, although not all her letters reached destination. His answers put her in an overwhelming state, sending her heart to heaven. She wanted to see the new Gaara, the new Kazekage.

The wind blew strongly this time and pushed her towards the bottom of the hill she finally climbed. But before she fell, a hand caught hers and pulled her against a broad chest. At first, she blinked but finally, her cheeks reddened. She started apologising, until she noticed the person. And then, she stopped breathing altogether.

His red hair had gotten longer and waved in accordance with the wind. He was wearing the large, pale robe reserved only for the strongest ninja in a village; the kage. And mostly, the soft, affectionate look on his face filled her with an inexplicable joy and she literally threw herself in his arms that he locked around her body after. He laid his head against her head, breathing her hair. She enjoyed hearing his heart beat strongly in his chest; he was as real as it could get.

Gaara took her by the shoulders and took a good look at her. She was so different from back then, but no matter what, she still remained the girl that made him open his eyes. Because of her, he began viewing the world and its habitants in another way. His siblings were no longer strangers to him, neither was Baki. He took on the job of Kazegake because he wanted to protect, like Hinata and Naruto, the people important him and from now on, he had another person to protect too.

"Hinata, I could not ever thank you enough." Under his intense gaze and his words, she squealed in embarrassment and a small smile appeared on his lips. "You changed the monster that I was. You illuminated the shadows of my heart. I could never be enough grateful for meeting you. I… I could never love someone as much as I love you."

Under his hands, Hinata stopped moving. "A-and you… you changed my life as well, Gaara. I believe in myself and always fight harder. No matter what other says, I am proud of me. But no one could have ever made me feel this way if you didn't show up. This is why you became the most important person in my life."

He chuckled softly and Hinata tilted her head. "What is it?"

"You're barely stuttering anymore."

Instead of blushing of shyness, Hinata lift her head proudly and grinned. Then she was pulled against him, and half-closed her eyes to the sudden closeness of their faces. "Forgive me if I offend you. I've been dying of doing that."

Trapped in a trance, Hinata simply murmured "Please go ahead…" and their lips met.

Their world exploded with colourful fireworks.

Don't cry… there was no need to anymore. They were both happy now.

I finally did it! I finally completed this fic!!! Thank you for your patience. I'm very grateful that so many people supported me through this. I hope you'll be happy with this ending. By the way, I deliberately omitted to write the fight between Naruto and Gaara. I thought that it would be way too complicated. I also pretty much stopped following the anime to write this fic, since it was too different from what I had in mind. So please review!