The next day

Sakura awoke to a soft nudging feeling on her shoulder.

"Sakura, hurry, you're gonna be late for school!" Temari said, standing over her, ready for the day. The pink-haired kunoichi slowly opened her eyes, yawning.
"What time is it?"

"Seven o'clock." Answered a familiar voice from the kitchen.

"I'm not going to be late, I still have thirty minutes or so."

"But you have to get your make-up on, c'mon Sakura-kun!" Temari practically dragged her off the couch and into the bathroom, "Take a shower, hurry! I'll fix you breakfast." Another day…

As soon as Sakura finished getting ready, she stepped out of the bathroom, walking into the kitchen. Gaara, who was sitting at the island glanced at Sakura, then back at his Eggo, covered in syrup. "Temari fixed you toast." Gaara stated, sliding a paper plate across the island, closer to where Sakura stood.

"Thanks." Sakura hardly touched the toast, and just sat, staring at it instead. She picked at her nails, then fanned out her hand, as if looking for any imperfections.

"What's wrong now?" The crimson hair boy asked, coldly, as if not caring much.

"Just thinking."
"Hn" He threw his used plate away, walking to the door with his black backpack slung over his shoulder, "You coming?" Sakura stood and walked with him, down the stairs, and out to the bus stop. The whole time, her head turned toward the ground, as if something were wrong. The bus creaked to a stop, steam rising from the back tailpipe (A/N I think that's what it's called…). Gaara stood to the side, letting the cherry blossom go first.

"Well look who it is! Little miss forehead!" snapped the blonde. Sakura sat a fair distance from the girl, ignoring the comment that she had just made. Gaara climbed onto the bus, realizing yet again that Sakura was being taunted by the blonde. He took a seat in front of the shy kunoichi, but before doing so, murmured, "Stand up for yourself." Sakura looked away from his gaze, out the window onto the cold winter streets. Gaara knew that something was obviously bothering her.

"Hey! I'm talkin' to ya!" Ino stomped to the front of the bus where Sakura sat, and pointed a finger right in front of her face, "You look at me when I'm talkin' to ya!" She yelled, even though Sakura sat maybe a foot away. There was no reaction from the pale-faced girl. Seeing this, Ino grabbed on to her hair and twisted her head around to look her in the face, "Well look! You got all prettied-up to get beat-up, huh?" At this, Gaara turned around to face Sakura, and Sakura looked to Gaara as if asking for help. The boy sighed, then stood up, clearly taller than the blonde. "Oh, now you've got your boyfriend to stand up for you again? Ha! He's not gonna be here every time." Ino sneered at Sakura, pushing her head from where it had been, causing Sakura to put her hands to the side of the bus, so to not bump into the wall. Her eyes turned back to the crimson-haired boy, and she muttered a "Thank you," then turned to look back out the window. Gaara turned back around, facing the front of the bus.

Within a few minutes, the bus came to another stop, this time at the school. All the students stood. Gaara, who was the first off the bus, waited for Sakura. They walked together in silence to her locker, then went their separate way to their classes.

After School

Sakura missed the bus, on purpose, not wanting to see her blonde "friend' again. She waited for Gaara to get out of after school detention. She sat, waiting at the front of the school, doing homework, not noticing who was walking up behind her.

"Why are you still here?"

Sakura jumped as she was startled by the unfamiliar voice of a certain raven-haired boy.
"Waiting."
"For me?" Sai asked, already knowing the answer.

"Where's Gaara?"

"He's inside, getting his stuff together… Which means, we get alone time Ugly." He smirked, sitting down next to Sakura on the bench. "Why are you waiting for him?" Sai asked, looking up at the cloudy sky. Sakura didn't answer. Instead, she just kept working on homework, not wanting to talk. Soon after, Gaara came behind Sakura, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"You didn't have to." He stated, starting to walk in the direction of the apartments. "We're walking home today." Sakura packed up her things quickly and followed him, as if she was a little obedient puppy.

"Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow, then, Sakura-chan!" Sai called, waving from a distance.

"Did he give you any trouble today, Sakura?" Gaara asked, trying to get Sakura to talk.

"No." She replied, not looking at the red-head. Gaara immediately stopped walking when she said this. Sakura, a few seconds later, realized this and stopped too, turning around to see why he had.

"Why are you acting this way?" Gaara crossed his arms, glaring at her, trying to figure her out.

"Why do you care?"

"Answer my question." Gaara retorted with a very stern voice. Sakura hesitated, then turned and began to walk toward 'home' again. Sakura jumped, feeling a warm hand come around her wrist, pulling her back. "If you want to talk, I'll listen." Gaara kept a tight grip on her wrist, clearly not wanting the kunoichi to feel this way any longer. "What's been troubling you?"

"It's nothing."
"Tell me now." Yet again, Gaara stated with a very stern voice.

"It's just, after my dad the other day… I can't help but think… And after what Ino said to me this morning… About you not always being there to protect me… She was right Gaara."
"Then you need to learn how to stand up for yourself."
"No. I can't, I'm just a gir-"
"Yes, you can. You just have to be aggressive and say something."
"No! You don't understand." Sakura ripped her wrist from Gaara's tight grip, tears finally falling from her face. "My mother died three days ago. My father, out of no where, came to take me away. And my mom's apartment got robbed of something that I don't even know what it is! I'm so frustrated and confused right now… I just don't know what to do… I wish everything would just go away and leave me alone." Sakura stood, fists clenched, staring at the ground. A warm hand slowly came to her face, holding her cheek in his palm.

"That may be how you want it. But that won't happen right away." Gaara looked into her emerald eyes, as she looked back into his. Her bottom lip quivered as she began to sob and shake. Said boy sighed and surprisingly let the girl wrap her arms around his neck and cry on his shoulder. "Sakura… you're going to have to work towards what you want. It won't just happen the way you want it to." Gaara put his hands on Sakura's waist, trying to give her as much comfort as he possibly could.

"I'm sorry, Gaara-kun. It's just that… I think everything just finally hit me…" The two stood, holding each other, on the eerie sidewalk, halfway back to their apartment. A few minutes passed, and Sakura pulled away from Gaara, acting as if she was done crying. She turned from Gaara and started to walk again, head hung low. Gaara skip-stepped to catch up with her, trying to comfort her by being at her side.

"Gaara…kun… You act as if I annoy you…" Gaara stared at the girl, trying to understand her thoughts. It seemed as if everything was running through the girls mind, all at once. "Is this true, Gaara?"
"No. You don't." Gaara turned his head to stare directly in front of him. "You don't annoy me. Ino does." At that, Sakura let out a small laugh.

As they neared the apartments, they could make out a few black figures leaning against the gate.

"Do you know them?" Gaara asked.

"No, do you?" Sakura replied. Gaara, just about to answer, stopped. A loud shot was heard. Sakura turned to face Gaara. Blood ran down his bare arm, dripping from his finger-tips onto the paved side-walk. He clasped his hand over the wound, trying to keep from screaming out in pain.

"Gaara-kun!" Sakura screamed, running to his side.
"Well, that takes care of him. Now to take care of you… Daughter…" Gaara, still conscious, looked up at the man.

"Your dad's a real pain." Gaara said, clenching his jaw. "Sakura, run. Call the police."

"Sakura, I'd think about that before you do… There's three grown men against two little girls. Haha, and we all have guns. Now, if you choose to go down the path that your friend there wants you to, both of y'all will be shot and killed. But if you just come quietly with us, I'll be sure to spare his life."

Sakura stood by Gaara's side, trying to hold him up. She thought for a moment, then took her hands away from the crimson-haired boy's arm. "Fine." She muttered walking towards her 'father'.

"Excuse me?"
"Yes sir." She stated, cursing under her breath.

"That's more like it, now, let's go. We need to have a little talk." From what appeared out of no where, was a black car. Both men who were unknown got in the back seat, sliding Sakura in the middle of the two. Her father sat in the front with the unknown driver. Gaara slowly took steps towards the car, taking its color and license plate into memory.

"Sakura…" He whispered, not believing what was happening. Her dad, just two days ago, had appeared. And now, was back again, taking her away from him. Gaara snapped out of his epiphany and ran up the stairs to the apartment. He grabbed the phone and dialed 911. Giving the receiver the license plate number, the color and type of car, he told the story. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion. It seemed like it took ages for them to get everything down. They sent an ambulance to take care of Gaara, and just as it arrived, Temari awoke from her after-school nap. She ran after the medics who were taking Gaara to the hospital. On the way, Gaara explained what had happened.

"There were three men, one of which was Sakura's dad. He's the one that shot me. They took Sakura, in a black Cadillac. It all happened so fast…" Gaara went on to explain more, but couldn't as they gave him oxygen. He soon drifted off, and awoke a few hours later to a fully bandaged arm and an IV in his wrist. He turned his head to the side, seeing Temari sitting. "Have they found her yet?" Gaara asked, sitting up.

"No, not yet. They're looking though. I'm so sorry Gaara-kun," Temari hung her head, shaking it from side to side.

"It isn't your fault. I need to find her though. She's in great danger. I need to get out of this hospital."

"There isn't anything you can do about it tonight, nii-chan. It's eleven o'clock. We need to get back home." At this, Gaara scowled. It had been more than just a few hours. It had practically been eight. The nurse came back, removed the IV from Gaara's wrist and told him to take it easy. Both teens left, arriving back at their apartment. "We need to think of a plan." Temari stated.

"We need to find her as quickly as possible. But how." The two siblings sat in silence, thinking of ways to find their new friend.