The Sandaime Hokage was leaving for Suna, but couldn't decide what to do about the boy Naruto Uzumaki. He was hated by the villagers for being the container of the Kyuubi no Kitsune, the Nine-tailed Demon Fox that had nearly destroyed the village six years earlier. They refused to see that he was not the demon and had tried to kill him on several occasions.
He thought long and hard about this before coming to a conclusion. He couldn't leave him here for fear of what they might do in his absence. He walked towards the young boy's apartment, it pained him that Naruto was forced to live alone in such harsh conditions, but his parents were never known and because of who he was, no one would adopt him and the orphanage wouldn't allow him there.
He knocked on the door, which swung open at his touch. He hurried into the apartment and started looking for the boy. In the bedroom he found the window open and a flash of orange and yellow moving through the alleyway below. He shook his head as he left for the Hokage Monument, Naruto had always gone there when he thought he was being threatened.
'If he is continued to be treated this way, he might very well come in contact with Kyuubi. If that were to happen we could have another massacre on our hands, but it wouldn't be confined to a single clan.' Walking was too slow for the old man and used Shunshin to arrive faster.
He found that Naruto had somehow managed to get down to the craved heads. The Sandaime smiled and went down to speak with him. "I'm impressed you got here. You should looked to see who's at your door before you run off."
"Sorry old man, but I couldn't be sure it was you. I learned about henge in the academy not to long ago. If it was you, I knew that you'd come here to find me."
"Why do you come here Naruto?"
"I going to become Hokage and surpass you all, then people will treat me right."
"Naruto, I'm leaving the village tomorrow, and I was wondering if you would like to come with me to Suna."
"It's another village like this one in the Wind Country."
"I'd love to." 'If only to get away from the glares.' "But I'll miss class and Iruka-sensei won't be happy."
"I'll speak with him if you want to come."
"Thanks old man. I think I'll go get something to eat, you want to join me?"
"Sorry, but I still have a few things to take care of before we leave."
"Alright, I'll see ya tomorrow." Sandaime was shocked to see Naruto, who wasn't even a genin, walk straight up the side of the monument.
'He has more potential than I had ever imagined.' He then realized on which craving he stood. 'Arashi, I know you would weep to see what our village has done to him. You gave your life to stop the beast and they terrorize the boy you chose as their savior.' He sighed and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Naruto was at the Hokage tower early the next morning. He had nothing with him because he had nothing to take. "Good morning Naruto. Eager to go I see."
"Morning old man, and it's just that this will be my first time outside the village. What's it like in Suna?"
"It's in the desert, so it's kind of like a giant sand box on a very hot day."
"Will the people there treat me the same as they do here?"
"Naruto, there will always be those who wish to hurt others, but the people there are normally very nice." A smile was plastered on Naruto's face. "So, shall we be going?" Naruto happily nodded and followed Sandaime to where his escort waited. Naruto was scared of them and made the old man laugh when he commented on their masks.
The trip took close to a week, during which time Sandaime and the Anbu members answered quite a few of Naruto's questions, usually concerning being a ninja. When they had reached the gates of Suna, they were greeted by a dozen men and women all wearing headbands like those Naruto had seen Iruka and plenty of other people wearing but had a different symbol on them.
"Lord Hokage, it's an honor to welcome you to Sunagakure." The man bowed deeply.
"Thank you, would you be so kind as to lead us to Kazekage?"
"Of course, right this way." The gates opened and they proceeded through and followed the group to a rather large building. All but the man who had greeted them left once they were inside. "The Kazekage is expecting you, but it's no place for a child, I could have someone escort him to the hotel where you will be staying if you like."
"No, that's quite all right. What is the name of the hotel?"
"The Sand Man."
"Naruto, why don't you go have a look around the village, and met me at the hotel before dark. Don't go getting into trouble."
"Okay, I'll see ya then old man." Naruto waved as he left.
He had walked around the village for at least three hours. After getting something to eat, he started to wonder where all the children were, because he hadn't seen one since he got here. That's when he heard the angry voices. His body immediately tensed, until he realized that they weren't directed toward him. He had heard the same names he was called and decided to see what was happening.
He ran towards the voice, all the while fighting his instincts to run away. He found the source not far away, there were three men throwing rocks into an alleyway. "Why don't you just die demon?!"
Naruto blood boiled, they were treating someone just like he had been in Konoha and he wasn't just going to stand there. "What the hell are you doing?!"
The men stopped and turned as Naruto rushed forward. He ram one and plowed him into the others. "What the hell is the matter with you brat?!"
"What right do you have to treat someone like that?!" Naruto walked down the alleyway to find a red haired boy. 'He can't be much older than me.' "Are you all right?" The boy didn't answer, the shock was evident on his face.
"Why are you protecting a demon?!"
Naruto turned to face them. "What has he ever done to you asshole?!"
"He shouldn't even exist! He'll kill us all if he's left alive!"
Naruto clenched his fists at his sides facing down, blood dripped though his fingers, pooling by his feet. His hair started to rustle even through there was no breeze. "That's the stupidest reason I have ever heard to hurt someone. But the pitiful thing is that I've heard it before, only it was said about me." His face rose and met their eye. They took a step back and gasped. Naruto's blue eyes now had cat-like pupils. The three whisker marks on his check grew wide and became bolder. "If we're demons, that makes people like you even worse! You disgust me!"
"There's another one?! Then we'll just kill you both." They threw shrunken instead of rocks and Naruto braced himself against the pain, but it never came. A wall of sand had come up in front of him. He turned to see that the other boy was now standing and had the flames of anger burning in his eyes.
"You won't harm him as long as I live!" The wall fell and the shuriken hit the ground. The men cowered in fear as the two boys started walking towards them. The men screamed and ran away from them. They stopped at the end of the alley. "Thank you. No one has ever stood up for me before."
"I know what it's like to be treated that way, I couldn't stand by and watch them do it to you. I'm glad to see you're not hurt, and thank you for protecting me as well."
"My name is Gaara."
"I'm Naruto, I'm here with the Hokage from Konoha."
"I heard my father was meeting with him."
Naruto's jaw dropped. "Your father's the Kazekage and they still treat you like that?" Gaara nodded. "Why the hell doesn't he do something about it?"
"He says that the council won't allow him to convict them."
"It's the same with those bastards from Konoha. What was that wall of sand you did, some kind of jutsu?"
"I'm able to control sand, and it protects me from harm. I willed it to protect you as well."
"Thank you. Not many people would do that for me."
"You said you're treated the same way, does that mean you're a vessel as well?"
"Unfortunately yes, I carry the demon that nearly destroyed our village. I found out while I was in the hospital one time, but never told anyone that I knew. Apparently I was never to know. He contacted me when I was unconscious."
"That would make you carrier of the Nine-tailed Fox, Kyuubi no Kitsune, correct?" Naruto nodded. "I was told that I carried the One-tailed Tanuki, Shukaku."
"It's not all bad, he heals me and lends me his strength when I need it." He held out his palms face up to show Gaara, they were healing before his eyes. Naruto had noticed something in Gaara's eyes that wasn't an emotion, but a sign of something. "You don't sleep often do you?"
"I can't, Shukaku becomes active and devours bits of my soul when I sleep."
"I'm sorry, I wish I could do something."
"Hey Gaara, keep a watch for those guys, they may come back. I'm gonna see if Kyuubi knows something that can help you."
"Alright, I won't let them harm you. Thank you for this." Gaara smiled.
Naruto's smile was genuine, unlike the ones he wore normally. "Don't thank me yet, I'm don't know if I can help you or not."
He sat down and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he was in the sewer that was his mind. 'I gotta remember to redecorate in here.' He made his way to the cage Kyuubi was locked in. "Hey Kyuubi."
"HELLO KIT, WHAT BRINGS YOU HERE?"
"Like you don't know." Kyuubi chuckled. "Do you know of anyway to help Gaara?"
"THERE IS ONE WAY. I COULD TALK TO SHUKAKU, BUT WITH THE SAND PROTECTING HIM, IT COULD BE DIFFICULT."
"Please tell me! I want to help him."
"YOU MUST PLACE SOME OF YOUR BLOOD ON HIS SEAL AND HIS ON YOURS. THIS WOULD ALLOW SHUKAKU AND I TO SPEAK TO EACH OTHER. BUT IT ALSO LINKS THE TWO OF YOU AND YOU'D BE ABLE TO SPEAK WITH HIM THROUGH A MENTAL LINK LIKE THE ONE YOU SHARE WITH ME."
"Thank you Kyuubi, I shall tell him all the details and see if he'll agree."
"CONTACT ME IF HE DOES."
Naruto nods and leaves. He opens his eyes to find that Gaara is looking down one way while a floating eye looks the other. "Now there's an interesting sight."
"Naruto nothing happened so far. Were you successful?"
"That depends on you, there is a way, but it would involve blood from both of us. We mark the other's seal with it and then our demons would be able to talk. Kyuubi believes that he can convince Shukaku to let you sleep. But there's a side affect, in doing so you and I would be connected. We would be able to communicate through a mental link, and as far as I know even when I was back in Konoha the distance wouldn't matter."
"So we would know each others every thought?"
"I don't think so, Kyuubi and I have a link as well, but he can keep things from me. Since he imprisoned in me, I can't keep anything from him. It's probably the same with you and Shukaku."
"I would like to give it a try. If it doesn't work, at least I'll be able to talk with you."
"It would be nice to have someone my age to talk to. The only problem is your sand."
"I'll try to keep it at bay, but for how long I don't know."
"It only has to be for a second, but because it protects you, you probably never felt physical pain. I don't know how to describe it, but it's not pleasant."
"It can't be helped." Naruto pulled his only kunai and walked over to Gaara. He placed the tip above just above a fingertip and the sand swarmed there. Gaara was too busy concentrating on moving the sand and struggling to keep it away that he didn't feel the kunai cut him.
Naruto lifted his shirt and concentrated his chakra to make the seal appear. "Just swipe your cut finger over the seal." Gaara did so and then revealed his own seal. Naruto did the same thing Gaara just had. 'Kyuubi, it's done. Gaara, can you hear me?'
'Yes I can. How about you?'
'Loud and clear.' Both boys smiled and started walking while they waited for Kyuubi to finish with Shukaku. "Gaara, what's it like having a family?"
"I don't really know. My father has me live with Yashamaru, my mother's brother. My two older siblings live with our father and we rarely see each other."
"You didn't know, but could you tell me why you asked, don't you have a family?"
"No, I'm a orphan. It's probably why they chose me. I doubt anyone else would give up their child, even if it were to prevent the destruction of the village. Before you say it too, it okay that you asked. We don't know much about each other, but you're the first person that I can talk openly with."
"I feel the same, we've experienced the same loneliness and pain. I'm content knowing that I have one person I can call my friend."
"So am I. Gaara, does everyone know about Shukaku, even the children?" He slowly nodded. "Then your pain is probably worse than mine, only those who can remember the attack know and are forbidden to tell the younger generations."
"I wish my father had done that as well, they all scared of me. I've done nothing to deserve it, and the glares hurt though they leave no wound."
"Yes they do, the pain is too much to handle, but I won't let them see my pain. I have crafted a mask of sorts that makes me out to be a happy idiot. I only let it down when I'm by myself, but I haven't worn it since I left. The old man has always seen through it so there's no point of using it around him."
"A mask to hide pain, I can see some reasons, but why do you wear it?"
"If they were to see the pain they inflict, they would grow bolder and get me to the point where I would have to reveal that I know of Kyuubi. The only way I will is if they push me to use his power, which will get them the proof they need to say that they were right."
"My power has been shown, I have little control over it."
'THAT WILL CHANGE.'
'Kyuubi, how did it go with Shukaku?'
'IT WASN'T HIS INTENTION TO MAKE GAARA GO WITHOUT SLEEP. HE WAS TRYING TO REACH OUT TO HIM. I COMPLETED THE BONDING WITHOUT THE NASTY SIDE EFFECTS.'
'So Gaara can talk to him like I can you?'
'YES, AND HE'LL BE ABLE TO SLEEP WITHOUT WORRY.'
'Thank you for your help Kyuubi.'
'IT WAS NOTHING KIT.'
"Gaara, Kyuubi says that Shukaku can talk with you now and that you can sleep again without worry."
"Shukaku just said the same and apologized for the trouble he caused."
"You know for demons, they not as bad as they're made out to be. Kyuubi's suppose to be evil incarnate, but here he is helping you. Either people are just stupid and can't tell the difference between malevolent and benevolent, or being locked up has made him soft."
Gaara smiled and shrugged. "I don't know which it is, but it doesn't matter to me. Naruto, would you like have dinner with Yashamaru and I?"
"Sure if you're sure he won't mind, I don't have to be to the hotel till around dark."
"I'm sure he won't mind, I'll also need help telling him about being able to sleep. He would become worried if I just slept."
"No problem, I'll tell him about Kyuubi if I have to. He sounds like a really nice person."
"I thought he was the only one that cared about me, but that was before I met you. Like you said, it's nice to be able to talk with someone my age."
"That's how I felt about the old man, but I found the best Ramen shop on the planet and now I've met you. When I first found out about Kyuubi, I thought that there was no one who could possibly understand my life. Knowing that there are other people, who have to face the same, if not worse, situations is both comforting and sickening. I'm comforted by the fact that there are others like me, but sickened that we're treated like shit for something we had no choose in."
"I hope there aren't others like us, but if there are we should do what we can to help them as well."
"I want to help them too, but what we would accomplish right now? We're still just kids and neither of us have training. We protect ourselves by instinct, but that won't always work."
"That's true, we need other ways of defending ourselves, each other, and them. Until then we'll learn and try to find their whereabouts."
"Agreed. When I get back to Konoha, I won't slack off anymore, so the next time we meet I'll be able to go. And I'll take us both out to Ichiraku's Ramen Bar."
"We will meet again, our villages are allies and hold the chunin exam together along with a couple other villages. We may get lucky and find another there."
"You never know, but luck is rarely on my side."