For the first time in a long while, I am actually quite pleased with the outcome of my writing.

What I have planned for this story is rather dark and heavy, so I don't expect you to actually like it much. But still I think you should give it a try and see for yourself if our tastes match.

This is strictly a Gaara/Hinata story, so if you don't like the couple, I can't be held responsible for not warning you beforehand. And yet I think that if you give me a chance, I just might make a shipper out of you.

So, without further ado, I bring to you:

Katana's Sheath

Chapter One: Not Part of the Plan

The Sand had been planning this for months, despite the fact that they had a non-aggression pact with the Leaf. They wanted—needed—the power of a bloodline limit since their village had none of its own. The wars were becoming harder to fight every day; the shinobi of the Sand could barely fare for themselves, what was left for protecting a whole village?

To top it off, what had been thought as the village's trump card, the demon of the desert, Shukaku, sealed into the body of the Fourth Kazekage's newborn son, came out to be one of the greatest mistakes they'd ever made. Instead of helping the village, the demon vessel had proved in numerous tests to suffer from mental instability caused by the lack of sleep that accompanied being Shukaku's container. The little brat had absolutely no talent at manipulating the sand that protected him regardless of his will. And thus, the Sand was left once more at a disadvantage against the neighbouring shinobi villages with little fire power, no bloodline limits and no tailed demon as its protection.

So the elders came up with a brilliant cunning plan of kidnapping the youngest of the oldest noble family in their neighbour village, the Hyuuga family. A small child wouldn't put up much of a fight and wouldn't cause as much racket as an adult would when ambushed. They'd swoop in for the kill hours after midnight, when everyone was surely fast asleep. The cat was definitely in the bag.

Imagine the kidnappers' surprise when they found the youngest Hyuuga awake at three in morning, jumping noiselessly around the spacious room with more grace than was usually found in a five year old little girl. As if she hadn't proved them wrong enough already, when she felt the presence of a stranger in the room, she instantly fell into her Gentle Fist stance, even though her knees and arms were shaking and her posture shabby as hell. She fought bravely and injured one of her would-be kidnappers but in the end was overpowered three to one. Miraculously enough, she barely made a sound during the furious exchange and even when she was struck down, she just whispered something among the lines of "I'm sorry I failed you, father" until her tiny lids slid shut over her opalescent eyes.

So, with slight hitches, the plan of the Sand proved to be a success as they now had the girl in custody and the elders were gathered in a meeting to decide how to make use of her.

The decision they arrived at with an almost absolute majority was to use her as a guinea pig to find how the fearsome bloodline, the Byakugan eyes, worked. They didn't need her breathing for the completion of such a task.

The navy haired little girl was thrown in a windowless room with absolutely no light source. She could navigate around in the dark in this strange place she'd never been before and she was so scared she was trembling all over. She could almost hear the reproachful voice of her father in the back of her mind but she was unable to please it as she was frightened beyond belief.

Who were these people that had taken her? What did they want to do with her? Had she been a bad girl? Was this her punishment for not being good? She wanted to go home to her dad, in his securing embrace. Her parent had told her never to let her guard down and she hadn't—she'd fought the best she could but it hadn't sufficed.

She curled her knees up and wrapper her chubby little arms around them. Sniffles soon bounced off the dreary walls, the only indication that the girl was in despair. She wanted to go home, she wanted to go home! Why were they being so mean to her? She just wanted to be home!

"Stop whining, Hinata!" She almost jumped at the remembrance from a week ago. "If you're a Hyuuga, you must learn to protect yourself as there will be many people that will want the blood that runs through your veins. Instead of whimpering like a pampered child, strike back like a real Hyuuga! Don't disappoint me!"

She was the descendant of a genius clan, a family in which many great shinobi were born. At her age, people became Chuunins and Jounins. And what did she do? Cry all day long, a coward that was nothing but a disappointment to her only living parent. Her father often told her that her mother thought her little girl would make a great clan leader when she was older and the whole main family believed that. She believed it too. They all trusted in her and she was failing them, again. Would she ever be able to meet anyone's expectations?

Despite her timid nature and despite the fear that had a death grip on her heart Hinata pushed herself up and rubbed her tears roughly away with the back of her tiny fist. She was a Hyuuga and she had to make her family proud! She couldn't fail them! No matter how scared she was, how much she just wanted to crawl into a hole and die, the force that drove her onward—the fear of seeing her father's scornful face—was stronger than any other feeling she had. Being a shinobi of her status and name, she had to be more mature than most. Now was the time to show everyone that she was worth more than they gave her credit for!

She fumbled around in the dark for the door to the premise, her shaky legs proving to be little support in the case. Cold droplets of sweat were trickling down her face but she kept searching. She had to make her daddy proud…!

She almost jumped back at the feel of the hard metal knob. Jaw quivering with fear and uncertainty, she made a few seals and activated her Byakugan. She was really bad at manipulating her bloodline limit but she had the basic knowledge needed to get her out of this situation. She could clearly see the lock's mechanism with her chakra enhanced eyes now. All that was left was apply some more of her chakra to it so it would unlock.

The tiny palm hovered over the knob and she closed her eyes in concentration. In order to mold chakra, she recalled her father's lecture, she needed to have a clear mind, unaffected by any emotion. As you could imagine, that was a hard task for a child to perform but she still tried hard. When she was starting to lose her cool, a soft click filled her oversensitive ears and caused a swell of pride to rise in her small chest. She'd done it! She'd done it!

Once she was done congratulating herself on her small success, she tiptoed out of the room, looking cautiously around with her Byakugan for any of her assailants only to find the hall mercifully empty. Breathing a sigh of relief, she made her way for the closest exit her chakra enhanced eyes could detect.

However, as she passed by a room that had the door open a crack, she felt a sharp stab in the back of her neck and the hairs there prickled to life. It was a sort of a tickle—the teasing kind—that was a completely new sensation to her. She stopped mid-stride and turned her head to look at the closed door. Concentrating on what lay beyond it, she found it to be a small boy playing with a mountain of toys.

Child-like envy enveloped her being as she watched him but something was off. He had many toys but it seemed no one but him played with them. How lucky, she thought jealously. He has them all to himself.

Looking closer at him, she realized that it was probably him that had made her stop dead in her tracks. There was something odd about him. There was no way he was a shinobi—shinobi had no time to play with toys, her father had told her many times, and he seemed like a pampered child—too much of one to be considered a ninja. So how was it possible that the chakra he had was way different than all the non-shinobi maids Hinata had seen at the Hyuuga mansion?

Overcome by her infantile need to explore the mysteries of the world more thoroughly, she pushed the door open and it creaked malevolently, alarming the little boy beyond it of her entry.

Deactivating her Byakugan had been the first thing she did before encountering him because the popping veins around her eyes were something that scared the daylights out of her so she was sure he'd probably feel the same way, probably never having been face to face with a user of this technique. She was met with the clearest pair of marine orbs she'd ever seen when the red haired boy fixed her with his intense intelligent gaze.

Her unnatural confidence from a moment ago betraying her, she felt suddenly self-conscious and shyly stepped back toward the door when he just looked at her.

"H-h-hello," she muttered quietly, her head hung low in a vain attempt to hide from him behind the door.

He stared at her for the longest time before offering a meek "Hello," of his own.

"Are y-you… Are you p-playing a-alone?" Again, with the unease-begetting staring of his. She wanted to run and hide from him and in the same time something compelled her to keep asking her questions stubbornly.

"Yes," was his short reply before he turned back to the cubes he was piling up like a sky-scraper that the Sand didn't have to offer in its design.

"Y-you d-don't like to-to-to sh-share y-your t-toys with a-a-anyone?" There was something really sad about this boy's complexion and she felt childish empathy for him.

"No." He blinked a few times while he reached for another cube. "No one wants to play with me."

All her previous envy of the boy's treasure room forgotten, Hinata felt angry at everyone who spurned this little guy. It was really mean to treat someone like that—she knew that first-hand. It was unfair to be treated like an outcast. It was terrible to have to play alone because it wasn't as fun as playing together with other kids.

It was amazing how easily a young mind could be derailed from one course of action to a completely different and Hinata was a great proof of that. She had some still poorly developed self-defense instincts and thus was unaware of the dangers of her prolonged staying in the building where her attackers had taken her to. But presented with a room full of toys—things she couldn't usually allow herself to have fun with as her every day schedule was too busy with training sessions with her father to leave her any room for nonsensical things as playing—and a lone boy who could use some company, she couldn't resist the urge to have some fun for once. Her daddy didn't need to know. She'd go back to him right away anyway—as soon as she was content with her work in the Toy Paradise, of course.

"Th-then… C-c-can I… p-play w-with y-y-you?" Her stutter intensified when she was nervous and Kami knew she was very shy under the boy's soul-searing gaze. But with willpower that surprised even her, she stood, unwavering, staring back—while she wasn't looking at her feet, of course.

The adorable blue-green childish orbs with unsettling black rims widened at her query.

"You'd play with me?" He sounded shell-shocked, as if no one had ever offered such a natural thing before. Her bright white eyes lifted to catch a glimpse at him again. He was such a cute boy—why wouldn't anyone want to play with him?

"I-if y-y-you… w-w-want me t-t-to."

She watched as he slowly nodded and she made her way towards him with tentative small steps, almost falling over herself a few times but miraculously managing to maintain balance every time, if even just barely.

She sat a bit too far from him, still just as uneasy around anyone she didn't know well but just as determined to be some good company. So she asked the most obvious thing she could think of with her simple young mind.

"W-what are y-you b-building?"

"A sky-scraper," he answered eloquently as per usual. The word confused her.

"Wh-what's a sky-sc-scaper?" The foreign word rolled oddly off her tongue and she grimaced slightly at it.

"Sky-scraper," he corrected her bleakly. "And obviously, it looks like this." He noted after three more floors to his work of art that she wasn't doing anything—just standing there, looking at the stack of toys like she'd never seen anything quite as mystifying as them before. "You're not playing," he pointed out dead on.

"I-I don't k-know h-how i-it should l-look l-like," she explained, looking at the floor guiltily. He snorted slightly at her reasoning.

"You don't need to make something like it should be. Do it how you want to. No one's going to stop you anyway."

This information was new. His freedom of mind made her envy him all over again. He had this many toys and no one told him what he should do. She, on the other hand, had always been forced to think of her clan first and then of herself. It was too selfish to be otherwise. A future head had to put her responsibilities for the family before her own well-being—it was just another part of being the leader the greatest family in Konoha.

So this was completely new experience to her—having the freedom to decide something on her own and not be judged for the outcome. She'd never had the chance to be creative—in life or training. She had to learn to cook, clean and wash as a kunoichi; she had to use strictly and foremost the Gentle Fist style and all the techniques of the Hyuuga-style because she was a Hyuuga and she had to set and example. Slacking was not tolerated and she had to exceed her limits with her skill in fighting every time. She couldn't use any other techniques when fighting her father because the point was to improve her Gentle Fist. She couldn't be creative because creativity did not suit the patriarchy that was the Noble House of Hyuuga.

She grabbed a few cubes with more vigour than she'd shown him thus far and surprised him a bit. In no time, she had a little house by a waterfall.

"What is it?" Her companion asked and she looked at him as if he'd just sprouted a hand from his ear that was currently waving at her gaily. After she explained what she thought was obvious, he raised an inexistent eye brow. "How girly of you," he remarked dryly. She shifted her eyes to the soft carpeted floor in dejection.

"I-I-I'm s-sorry. B-b-but I a-am a g-girl a-after all." He nodded in childish thoughtfulness at that and continued his own work diligently. Something occurred to her all of a sudden. "C-c-can I a-ask y-your name?"

"There aren't many things you could ask a name to do." She blushed beet red for some unfathomable reason for him.

"I-I j-just w-wanted t-to know w-what i-it is… i-if y-you w-wouldn't mind t-telling me?"

He looked oddly at her and she started fidgeting under his scrutiny but he turned a blind eye to that. Instead, he focused on the fact that she obviously had no idea who he was. Was that why she was so nice to him? Was that why she wanted to play with him? Was she from a different village or something? He couldn't come up with any other explanation for her lack of blatant fear for him, even though she was constantly stuttering and fretting in his presence. Was she a new playmate that his father had awarded him with? Was she his upcoming birthday gift from Yashamaru? Did she want to actually be his friend, just like all those kids at the Academy were befriended?

The thought made something warm in his chest stir.

"Gaara," he introduced himself curtly. "What's yours?" He'd heard it was normal to ask for others' names as well. Something about knowing how to call each other later on.

The girl blushed an even deeper shade of crimson and he wondered briefly if she was sick or something. He couldn't possibly know because he never got sick or injured.

"I-I-I'm H-Hinata." She bowed frantically. "N-nice t-to m-m-meet y-y-you, G-G-Gaara-kun!" When she looked up at him with her innocent pearly eyes he blinked back and gave her a small nod. She smiled brightly at him.

She was odd in many ways and definitely different than everyone he'd ever come across—not that those were many in the first place—but he could actually find himself liking the girl—just a tiny bit though. He had no idea who sent her to him or why she wasn't afraid of him and didn't know him from others' tales, but he didn't care. He finally had someone to play with and—while he couldn't quite put his finger on it—he was quite certain that the feeling that was swirling in his young chest was what normal people called "happiness".

"This is boring, let's play something else." He said and turned away from his building quickly, rummaging through the stack of toys under the firm gaze of his new playmate.

"B-b-but, b-b-but…!" she protested weakly, unable to string a sentence together in her haste to get the words out of her mouth.

Neither had the chance to finish what they were doing though, as the door slammed open to reveal a bunch of agitated shinobi who scanned the room quickly only to have their eyes fall on the startled little girl and the now slightly annoyed boy behind her.

"There she is, Yuura-sama!" one of the henchmen shouted. "She's in Gaara-sama's room!"

"What do you want?" the boy demanded as the girl slowly stepped back closer to him. She didn't know if she could trust him and she was dead certain that he was just a normal boy, thus incapable of doing anything to stop those people if they wanted to do her harm even though they referred to him with a honorific, but she still crawled to hide behind his back, shaking with fear as she recognized her kidnappers' faces among the small crowd gathering in the once placid room.

"I still can't believe she made her way out of prison! I'm quite sure I locked up really well!"

"Your incompetence shall be punished, but later, Baki." The man called Yuura said as he stepped up closer to the Hyuuga who shrunk back further behind Gaara's tiny frame that provided little to no security. "Right now we have a pest to deal with."

"Didn't you hear what I said?" Gaara snarled in a way that was a bit too ferocious to suit a five year old boy. Even without her Byakugan activated, Hinata started feeling that something bad was about to happen. "What do you want here? Begone, all of you!"

"You are obstructing the capture of an escaped prisoner, Gaara-sama," Yuura told him condescendingly as he closed in on the kids. "Your father will be greatly displeased with you when he hears of this."

"L-l-l-let m-m-me g-g-g-go!" Hinata shrieked in distress. "I d-d-don't w-w-want t-t-to g-g-go b-b-back in t-t-the d-d-dark! L-l-let g-g-go!" She wailed and arched in the grip of the large man and hit him with all her might but it served her no good. They were carrying her away and there was nothing anyone could do to help her now. Father, save me! I'm scared! I'm scared, father! Help me! She pled mentally but no one would be able to hear her cries of desperation, no one would be able to save her now because she was alone again, completely at the mercy of these evil men.

"Let Hinata go, you bastards!" Heads turned at the source of the scream and it took the victim a while to realize that the gruesomely distorted double-layered voice had come from none other than the now furious Gaara, around whom a whirlwind of sand was forming, holding promise of vicious torture ahead if his will was not obeyed.

Before she realized it, she was roughly ripped from her captor's arms and thrown ruthlessly on the ground behind Gaara. She felt her whole body hurt all over from the impact but it wasn't a new sensation to her—she'd suffered worse damage in her sparring sessions with her father.

It took her a small while to get her wits together again but when she pushed herself up into a sitting position on the floor, she was looking at the moving sand snaking around the invaders' arms and legs in a grip that looked firmer than vice. They were screaming in pure anguish and Gaara's back and shoulders—the only thing she could see of him—were stiff and slightly bent in a rather unnerving way.

"I'll make you pay for upsetting me. I'll make you pay for hurting Hinata. I'll make you feel sorry you were born!" He thundered in a voice far too mature to be his own.

He scared her now. He really scared her. She couldn't pry her eyes away from the grotesque picture in front of her though. Blood was mixing with the chakra-infused sand as he crushed limbs and took lives. Her Byakugan activated on what seemed its own accord and she saw the traces of an awry chakra in the sand. It felt primal, furious and it hurt to look at. It was anything but human. It was all too much. It made her heart throb, listening to the pleas for mercy and the pained sobs of grown men who knew they were about to die. She couldn't bear with it any longer.

"Stop it, stop it, stop it!" she yelled atop her lungs, for once the stutter in her voice gone without a trace. "Don't do this anymore, I can't take it! Stop!" she begged and pled, desperate to stop this massacre.

To the surprise of everyone present—even to himself—Gaara did as she demanded unrepiningly, even though he had no conscious hold on the sand. It dissipated, letting go of its prisoners who took the incentive to disappear. No one wanted to face the boy's wrath. It was clear now that things had gone awfully wrong. The Kazekage's son shouldn't have become attached to her. He shouldn't have defended her because now there was no one he'd let them do as they pleased with her. He was the strongest being in the village—stronger than his father himself—and no one could go against his wishes.

Having Shukaku's vessel become attached to their Hyuuga hostage was not part of the elders' brilliant plan.

Those who could still use their extremities took the more heavily wounded ones away to inform the higher-ups of the change in the situation so they could reform the plan to accommodate to the new circumstances, leaving the two younglings on their own again.

Once all of the damned shinobi were gone, Gaara turned around with a completely collected expression on his face to his new friend as if he wasn't just about to murder in cold blood an entire team of Jounins. He stepped closer to and—thankfully for her, for she wasn't sure how he'd react if she had flinched back from his closeness—she was a in a complete stupor, unable to move her eyes away from the bloody stains on the carpet by the entrance.

He crouched in front of her and looked her directly in the eye with something akin to insanity but someone as young as Hinata could not place such an emotion correctly. So instead she just shifted her shocked gaze to him, her whole small figure trembling in fear.

"It's all right now, Hinata." He assured her in that cool, calm voice he'd talked to her in the beginning, making her unease settle down somewhat and partially forget that he had been what she was supposed to be afraid of most. "I won't let them hurt you anymore. I promise."

And for some odd reason, she believed him. She trusted him so fully and completely that it made her cry.

Their friendship was not part of the traitorous plan of the sand but it definitely made two lone souls a bit more complete than they had ever been.

Review if you'd like to. I'd be thankful for the feedback and it could make me write more sooner, if you want me to, because otherwise I might be buried with schoolwork.

Thanks for your attention.