Hello, everybody. This is my first fanfiction ever, so don't be too angry if it is unsatisfactory. I don't mind constructive criticism, but please give me reasons for your complaints. Thank you, and please enjoy my story.

I do not own Naruto or any of its characters, so on and so forth.

Chapter One: Betrayal

Gaara of the Desert sat atop a building in his home village of Suna. It was night, the sun's rays no longer swaddling the villagers like some kind of invisible blanket. The moonlight made Gaara's skin seem even paler, the shadows around his eyes even deeper and darker than normal. His fiery red hair had darkened to the red of arterial blood.

Why, Gaara thought miserably, why am I such a monster? The darkness was always a difficult time for him. It reminded him of just how alone he truly was. Not one single friend, not one caring family member apart from Yashamaru. Every single villager looked at him with scorn and fear. It had been a long time since anyone had been foolish enough to throw anything more than a dirty look his way, but Gaara would have been willing to suffer any number of blows if he could have just one friend his own age.

Go home, monster.

The little boy's words still rang in the back of Gaara's mind, ricocheting around the inside of his skull. The longer he sat there, dwelling on his solitude, the stronger the memories of the villagers pulsed at the back of his head like a migraine.

Worry not, little one, you will always have me.

Gaara felt his eyes burn with tears as the not-quite-voice echoed in his mind. The thought was far from comforting, just as it was intended to be. It was mocking, with more than a little malevolence and bitterness. He did not hear any actual words, just the emotion and sentiment of the demon within him. The message was clear enough, though. Shukaku had spent many years sealed away in a tea kettle before taking up residence inside Gaara. The demon had taken some small comfort in the fact that he now had a host that he could heap emotional abuse on.

Suddenly, Gaara's sulking was interrupted by the soft poof of objects striking his sand barrier. He whirled around to see who had gotten drunk enough to forget about his perfect defense, then froze when he registered what was happening.

His assailant had his face covered in cloth, not uncommon in the desert. What was alarming was the presence of a ninja's headband around the attacker's forehead. Yashamaru had told him a long time ago that all ninja in Suna were forbidden from attacking Gaara. As the son of the Kazekage, he was an extremely valuable resource to the village. This man must truly hate me to disregard an order from Father, Gaara thought.

The tears that he had been holding back spilled as the ninja threw shuriken at him, all of them being deflected by his sand barrier. Villagers had never been shy about expressing their distaste for him in small ways, but this man was risking execution by defying an order form the Kazekage. Why me, Gaara thought to himself, why is it always me? Gaara's depression crested, and then something in him snapped.

Gaara felt all of his sadness turn into a simmering anger. The Shukaku, always eager for a bit of freedom, sensed his chance and set to work in Gaara's subconscious. The redhead felt his anger fanned into a true rage, the fangs of his demon's own will and fury chewing on his brain until all he felt was white.

All he saw was red.

He would make that red more than a rage-drunk hallucination.

Gaara's hand shot forward, palm out. Channeling chakra through his hand, Gaara's rage took shape as a tendril of sand lashed out and seized the ninja in an unbreakable grasp. As soon as the sand encircled his foe, Gaara became hyper aware of everything around him. The cool wind of the desert night on his skin, the harsh pants of the ninja encased in his grip, the tingle of the drying tear tracks on his cheeks.

The staccato thump-thump, thump-thump of his prey's heartbeat.

A heartbeat that would not affront the peace of night for long.

Gaara allowed himself one moment to savor the fact that soon, this painful rage would be purged from his mind. His fingers closed into a firm fist, and he relished the sound of bones breaking under sudden, immense pressure.


Shukaku, satisfied at the bloodletting, released his hold on Gaara's emotions and retreated to the back of his mind once more. He felt lightheaded, and fell to his knees as anger leaked out of him. Kunai, shuriken, and sand were scattered all about the rooftop. The sand on top of the corpse was stained red from the ninja's blood. The cloth that had concealed his face had come loose on one side, revealing half a face to Gaara's numb gaze. He froze in shock, Gaara knew this man!

"Heh, you truly are impressive, Gaara." The dying ninja said around a mouthful of blood.

Baki, Gaara thought in bewilderment, why would you try to kill me? Since the time he could fist stand, Gaara had been trained to become a ninja. As the son of the village leader, he would have to be prepared for assassination attempts and the like. More importantly, as the container of the Shukaku, he would have to be given the skills with which he could use the demon's powers.

For the majority of Gaara's education in the ninja arts, his teacher had been Baki. Through their recurring meetings the two had formed, if not a friendship, then at least a mutual respect. Gaara had learned all of his basic ninjutsu and skills from Baki, and he had even taught Gaara a sort of meditation technique that helped him squelch Shukaku's murderous impulses. Apart from Yashamaru, Gaara thought Baki to be the only person who did not view him solely as a monster.

"Lord Gaara!"

Gaara turned to the roof's edge to see Yashamaru clambering up onto the roof. Yashamaru started to say more, but stopped when he saw Baki's corpse.

"I'm sorry!" Gaara cried, "He attacked me, and I could help myself! I was just so angry"

"It's okay, Lord Gaara." Yashamaru interrupted, "I have come to tell you something very important, but we must move right now!"

Relived that Yashamaru did not hate him, Gaara did not hesitate to obey. They began hopping from rooftop to rooftop. Some minutes later, Gaara could hear the signal whistles and shouts of more ninja. When Yashamaru heard the same noise, his face tightened in fear. He went even faster, and Gaara actually had to begin to exert some effort to keep up. Soon, they reached the outside of town where the buildings were shorter and they were more exposed on the rooftops. They descended to the streets and Yashamaru began to slow, turning his focus from speed to stealth. Gaara followed his lead, but luck was not on their side as two Suna jonin rounded the corner and all but collided with Gaara and Yashamaru.

As a medic, Gaara had always thought to himself that Yashamaru would probably not be much of an asset in a fight. Yashamaru himself had told him that he abhorred violence, and he spent far more time in the Suna hospital than as a field medic because of it. After this encounter, however, Gaara would never again doubt Yashamaru's prowess. With a flick of the wrist, Yashamaru drew a concealed kunai and rammed it into the first jonin's eye. Simultaneously, Gaara's uncle pivoted on one foot and kicked the other ninja in the solar plexus. The man's eyes bugged out as he collapsed, the wind had been thoroughly been knocked out of him. Yashamaru, not breaking stride, took one step forward and drove his right foot onto the man's neck with every ounce of his strength. The jonin's windpipe caved, and the vertebrae of his neck shattered from the impact. He let out one gurgle, and his limbs jerked spasmodically for a moment, then his eyes glassed over and he went still.

Gaara froze in shock, so much so that Yashamaru had to call him to remind him that they needed to keep moving. They ran for a few more minutes, and then they reached a stable on the very edge of the village. Yashamaru conversed briefly with the owner, then beckoned Gaara over to where the proprietor was untying a camel. There was enough room on the saddle for two people, so Gaara scrambled onto the camel behind Yashamaru. They immediately began to ride into the desert. Yashamaru had goaded the animal into a brisk run, which was a bad idea since both animal and rider would need to conserve fluids and energy for a trip of any kind of length in the punishing desert sands. Gaara kept his peace, though, deciding to trust the judgment of his guardian.

They did not keep up the pace for long. After a while, Yashamaru slowed their pace down to the trudging walk more common to people traversing the vast expanse of the desert. It was now that Gaara decided the time had come for his questions to be answered.

"Yashamaru," Gaara started tentatively, "what is happening? Why did we leave the village?"

Yashamaru was quiet for a long moment, then he replied, "Lord Gaara…what I have to tell you will come as quite a shock. As you know, before your birth the Lord Kazekage, your father, sealed the demon Shukaku inside of you. His purpose in this was to make you the most powerful ninja on the face of this world, and thus increase the power of our village. Until now, you have been carefully guarded and observed as a very valuable experiment."

Gaara knew all of this already, but despite his knowledge hearing it still caused his chest to constrict painfully. Yashamaru finished heavily, "However, due to your inability to control the demon within you, your father has ruled the experiment a failure. Lord Gaara, I am truly sorry, but your father has commanded that you be killed."

It was not exactly shock that coursed through Gaara's body. Some cold, calculating, ruthless part of his brain had guessed as much when Yashamaru had recapped his sad history. Perhaps the part of my brain nearest to where the Shukaku resides, Gaara thought to himself in cheerless sarcasm. Then, without warning, he began to cry harder than he had imagined possible himself. He dug his face into the back of Yashamaru's cloak as the fact that his own father, his own family, had sentenced him to death. True, his father had never seemed to like him, and Gaara could never remember seeing him smile, but he had never thought that he would be put down like some unsatisfactory lab animal if he had failed to measure up to his father's standards.

Yashamaru reached an arm back and wrapped Gaara in a one armed hug, rubbing his shoulders soothingly as Gaara tried to bring himself back under control. How Gaara wished he could escape into the black oblivion of sleep like any other person. The rush of eager assent in the back of his mind, though, reminded him just why he could not sleep. Shukaku often gleaned minuscule bits of freedom in his host's rages, but on the extremely rare occasions that Gaara lost consciousness Shukaku was allowed an alarming degree of power and freedom from his imprisonment. This, of course, only increased the child's anguish and made him cry even harder.

Hours later, as the sun broke over the horizon, Gaara's tears subsided into hiccups and groans, and soon even that faded away. By the time the sun had properly risen, Gaara was back in control. The broken child Gaara, whom only Yashamaru ever saw, was once more replaced by Gaara of the Desert. Thoughts of survival began to worm their way into Gaara's mind.

"Yashamaru," Gaara croaked, "where are we going?"

"It is no longer safe for you in Suna, Lord Gaara." Yashamaru replied, "As such, I have decided that we shall defect from Suna, and go elsewhere."

Gaara allowed that thought to sink in for a moment. Obviously, he had known that they would have to go into hiding. Yashamaru was in just as much danger as him for saving Gaara from Baki. Gaara realized that he would likely never see his home village again. All of his rooftop haunts, the playground, Temari, Kankuro, everyone and everything he knew. Everyone and everything that hated him for something he had no control over.

"Okay," Gaara said pensively, "so where will we live if not in Suna?"

"I know of another hidden village that is very far from here. More importantly, their leader is said to be as strong as the Kazekage, and he is said to have a kind heart. Hopefully he will take us in." Yashamaru replied.

"I see." Gaara said, "What is this other village called?"

"Konoha, the village hidden in the leaves."

I hope you enjoyed the first chapter, please review!

PS: I'm a slow and sporadic writer, so don't expect updates soon. Sorry.