Notes: I found the idea of glassblowing and Gaara interesting, so I decided to write this. Sadly, my knowledge is limited and what I included may not be entirely accurate or a bit confusing. I tried to keep it simple. Yes, there's an original character, but the story's focus is Gaara.

Spoilers for post-Timeskip.


The glassblower in Suna has a small shop tucked away in the north side of the city. Although business is hardly thriving in a village full of hardened ninja, it doesn't matter much to her. Shouko only wants to make her art in quiet, and the Hidden Village of Sand is close to some nice mineral deposits. The alliance with Konoha purports easily available limestone, too. Besides, even ninjas have a use for plates, cups and bowls. The rate that things break means she'll never be out of business. A few even buy her decorative figurines for courtship gifts. Lacking an apprentice means she can't do any of the fancier work that needs more hands, but it's no big deal. She just wants to work, and maybe show up Touji's pottery once in a while.

Some days, she feels eyes watching her work but sees no one. A mere civilian, she doesn't notice the sand eye in the corner of her shop. The old woman stops caring after a while, as working with molten glass requires concentration and sometimes speed. As long as nobody gets in her way, the whole village could look for all she cared.

When Gaara of the Desert enters one afternoon, she ruins the vase she was working on by grossly misaligning the colored glass cane. It makes a nice set of colorful paperweights instead. She remembers when his bloodlust couldn't be slaked, when he laughed at murder and reveled in sandstorms. Years have passed and he seems calmer, the brief war with the Hidden Village of Leaf somehow changing him. Shouko still remembers a 10-year-old boy covered in blood and pleased as the other children ran away in terror.

She says nothing, holding in her fear. There's no point provoking a powerful shinobi, and no civilian is fool enough to meddle in their affairs. The glassblower knows her place, and continues working. The next vase turns out beautifully. Gaara remains silent until he leaves several hours later.

He comes in the next day and Shouko doesn't even flinch as she transfers a bowl to the solid metal punty for finishing. The dark-rimmed eyes are flat but she's been around long enough to know curiosity in young boys. Apparently having a monster inside you can't change that much.

After two weeks of erratic visits, she finally hears the expected words. "Teach me." The old woman doesn't ask why he wants to learn, why he isn't off on a mission or training or whatever it is he usually does because it's none of her business. She sees the child in a killer and doesn't care that it may prove her undoing. Everybody dies and she's seen enough years.

Two months, off-and-on he's waiting outside the shop for her. She explains the 3 furnaces, the marver, the punty, the blower, the tweezers and paddles and jacks and canes. She shows him how to make colored glass, what it looks like naturally, what type of sand is best. Shouko demonstrates the most basic bowls to delicate figurines, but doesn't let him touch anything. He says nothing, asks no questions, eyes following her every move. She's never been self-conscious but something in his stare is unnerving.

The next two weeks he's gone. Since his brother and sister are as well, Shouko assumes it's a long mission and wonders if killing and the absence will turn him off from these strange sessions. Gaara is back on her doorstep on Wednesday.

This time she lets him work the glass, taking him through the steps from glass creation to cooling. There's no praise or encouragement, just the occasional correction and instruction. His first bowl turns out a bit lopsided, but the green-blue natural glass looks nice all the same. It matches the color of his eyes.

Partway through the next piece, Gaara stops, staring at the molten glass. He hands her the long metal stick without comment, grabs the pack of red powder and sprinkles some onto the glass. Then his hands made symbols and the old glassblower feels fear strike her heart. She is a fool for trusting the glimpse of humanity she'd seen. A hand reaches out and makes a crushing motion, but instead of sand moving, the still-hot glass convulses and dives in upon itself. The colored powder streaks as the glass forms a cocoon. The movements are sluggish, cooling glass battling with his apparently incomplete control. Her heart returns to a normal pace.

Shouko sticks it back into the furnace, somehow knowing it isn't finished. As soon as she pulls it back out, the red-haired ninja repeats the procedure, creating complex swirls of red as it wraps over itself. The resulting paperweight has intricate whorls she'll never be able to reproduce. He puts it in the lehr and leaves without a word.

Two days pass, and he comes in as she finishes a tiny fox figurine. She hands him the blower and sits back as he repeats the procedure, trying for something impossibly complicated as the glass sluggishly obeys his will. The first one is a failure and turns into a red and tan striped vase. He makes three more matching vases then leaves for the day.

Four days pass, and he comes in as she's working on a dinnerware set. He watches her finish off the cups without comment. Shouko hands him the blowpipe and watches as the final work takes shape. Tan glass, red, white, and black frit; what seems like ages pass as he moves his hands and stares at the glass between reheating. The outer spherical shape doesn't change, but something takes shape on the inside.

After placing it in the annealer, they make several large vases and pitchers together, close but never touching. The old woman is curious, but whatever Gaara made strikes as too personal for her to see without permission.

"Keep it," he says as he leaves, "as way of showing my appreciation."

She isn't sure what to feel, knowing she won't be seeing him again—not up close, anyway. Shouko also doesn't know what to make of him appreciating learning glassblowing.

Once he's gone, she pulls out the cooled work and nearly drops it in shock.

Translucent tan glass swirls around in clouds like a sandstorm. Huddled in the center, barely visible, is the figure of a red-haired boy with dark eyelids made from a bubble of glass. Small hands obscure the crying face, the clothing is loose and ragged, only half-formed; he looks roughly 6-8 years old.

This is the boy that terrifies the village, the weapon of Suna, the cage of Shukaku, trapped inside a little glass dome. This is the child that became a killer. She can't look at it any more because it feels like she's violating some unspoken taboo.

Eight months later, the council finally announces who will be the next Kazekage. She's the only person in the village besides his siblings who thinks Gaara will make a good one.

From time to time, she pulls out the glass sphere and stares, wondering what compelled the strange boy to make such a thing.

Two days before the Kazekage is kidnapped, a crack appears in the glass.