Chapter 1: Sweet Sacrifice

The boy, looking up, closed his book upon hearing the sound of a shrill cry. The school bell...7th period was over, time to go home. The boy gathered his things from the old wooden single desk, littered with profanities, various signatures from different cliques, doodles and a couple of love declarations that said: Inuyasha and Kouga - 4 Life. He paid no attention to those things, they became part of the desk, a part that made him run groves through his sheet of paper anytime he refused to write under more than one piece.

The boy shoved the rest of his books into his backpack and shrugged it on, hitting someone who recently got up to exit the classroom.

"Hey, watch it freak." The young girl growled, but the boy said nothing, just grabbed his journal and left, leaving the young blond to roll her eyes angrily.

School had always been like that for him, everyone noticing him but pretending like he didn't exist. Until he inescapably made himself known. Either by unknowingly bumping into someone or making a comment that was 'inappropriate' inside one of the classrooms at Konoha High School. No one appreciated it when he would speak out of turn about the random things his teachers talked about in class, so he learned to keep quiet. Instead his unruly red hair would peak out above his favorite book, a collection of all writings by Edgar Allen Poe, or his black rimmed eyes focused on his journal, writing down anything that came to mind; content in his own little world. He had no friends, barely even his family would accept him.

He was alone and he accepted himself as such.

He walks down the long corridor of lockers, everyone watching but no one noticing him. It's a rather strange feeling. To be watched and ignored at the same time. Watched because everyone seems to be standing on edge, waiting for you to crack, just for their moment to run and escape the worst of the threat. Ignored simply because they want nothing to do with 'your kind'.

The boy walked with his head down, not making eye contact with anyone, afraid that if he did people will notice the true horrors that reside within his mind. So he stares at the broken tiles as he makes his way out of the school. The tiled floors are chipped and cracked in places that make a design all the way until the red head reaches the concrete steps of the building's exit. As he stepped out, the warm sun lighted his pale skin, making it glow with a striking eeriness. He hated the sun.

Not that it was bad, he just preferred night time, and the moon, and the stars. At least then he could dream that he wasn't where he really was. But it would be hours before night fell, so he kept making his way out of the school building, groups of noisy teenagers pushing and shoving in their hurry. Good thing he had only one year to go... But the year had just begun and he still had to live at home with his father...a man that he hated and hated him.

As soon as he was out of the school gates the mass of loud, unruly children turned in one direction, as if a force brought them together in one place and was now leading them in the same direction. Masses of scholars flipping out their phones chatting with friends and just plain out being loud. The red head turned the other way, not in the mood to intercept so many happy spirited teenagers. His life wasn't happy spirited and he didn't want to pretend like it was.

After walking a couple of blocks, the boy rounded a corner and immediately regretted it. Standing out in front of a particularly flashy house-due to the bright yellow in which it was painted- stood a group of about 7 people. Three doing slightly impressive stunts on skateboards, two watching and a duo of two girls in the back ground talking, rather loudly, about whose haircut is better. The brown haired one saying hers was more 'in season' and the obviously dyed pink haired girl said her color was more 'trendy'. The red head sighed, just when he thought he got away from them another pack reeled their nasty heads around the corner. He didn't really wanted to walk past them but this was his only way home, unless he wanted to trudge the thirteen blocks in the other direction amongst a statistically bigger, louder group.

He decided to take his chances, hoping that the cola guzzling teens didn't notice him. To his horror though, the board of a blond, particularly spiky haired kid decided to flee from his owner, causing the boarder to land on his backside, the skateboard slid all the way across the street, just as the boy walked past. The group of teens stared down at the planted boy, then suddenly burst into peals of laughter, obviously the blond had no talent because they were laughing really hard despite the fact that they were all friends. The blond who had been splayed all over the black gravel lifted up suddenly, looking around for his board. Then called out to the boy walking, at a much faster pace than before, down the block.

"Gaara? Oi, Gaara!" the blond waved to get the red head's attention. To his better judgement Gaara stoped, turning around to see the blond bounding happily to his side. He rose his non-existant brow in question.

"It is Gaara, right? I'm Naruto Uzumaki, we've got homeroom together with Kakashi-sensei." The blond grinned widely at Gaara, the too blue pools of his eyes disappearing into tight slits.

Gaara responded with a shrug and continued walking ignoring the loud teen. But he was once again intercepted by this Naruto Uzumaki, the boy stood right in front of him. Gaara sighed. "Move."

Naruto waved a finger in front of his face. "Not before you say hi and smile." He grinned at the red head.

Gaara's brow furled some more. 'Is this guy serious', he thought, exhausted by Naruto's cheerfulness. The guy just got grounded, by his board no less, he should be in pain by the force in which he hit the ground, but somehow he still had enough energy to bother the anti-social red head.

"Hi." He grumbled out, trying to push past the blond again, he didnt budge.

"Awl, you can do better than that." He said, pulling the boy's cheeks, effectively 'showing' him the proper way to smile. Gaara reeled at the contact and slapped the blond's hands away from his face.

"Dont. Touch me." He said darkly before storming past the boy, too angry to divulge him anymore.

Naruto stared at the dispersing figure of Gaara as he walked down the rest of the block and turned the corner. He sighed. He didn't mean to offend him, just thought he needed to loosen up some. He was always quiet in class, either reading, writing in some journal or sleeping. He had never met anyone so antisocial...maybe accept for Sasuke, but that was another story. He grabbed his board and jogged over back to his group, who all stared wide eyed at him, with the exception of Shino, whose eyes couldn't be seen behind his ever present glasses. Even in school the teachers never bothered him to take them off. They must not care, that or they don't notice because he's had them on for so long. And Neji who raised a curious eyebrow towards the blond.

"What the hell did you think you were doing?" One of his friends asked, a brunette, with red fangs tattooed on each of his cheeks, put there 'so he would look cool' or so he said.

"What?" Naruto questioned, he was only trying to make a friend.

"You do know who that was, don't you?" The brunette questioned again, his mammoth dog snoozing on the grass close by.

Naruto nodded his head slowly. "Yes, Kiba, I do. What of it."

The male in question raised his hands in defeat. "Hey, you want to bother psycho's then have at it. It's your life."

"Wha?" he asked, his face twisted in confusion. "Neji, what's he talking about?"

"That guy, moved here from Suna High. He was expelled, but the reasons are unclear. Some say that he's unstable." Naruto stared at his friend. The boy just shrugged his ponytail back over his shoulder. "People haven't exactly warmed up to him. Truth is I don't think he wants them to either."

The blond laughed, the sound short, spreading through the air to land at the snoozing dog's ear; it twitched in response. "Since when do I believe rumors? People should come up with something else better to do with their lives." He grabbed his skateboard and tossed it over the fence into the yard.

"You're leaving?" A girl with a long bleached blonde ponytail asked.

"Yeah, I'm going home. Got to get dinner started before Jiraiya comes home and goes bananas. Later." A round of 'see ya's' could be heard as the blond rounded the corner. It had been three full years since his guardian had officially adopted him as his son. In some ways that was a blessing and a concern. Jiraiya, while strict, was irresponsible. He often forgot simple things and pressured Naruto about events he wasn't supposed to know about until he was grown and happily married. Needless to say the guy was a perv, who liked his dinner ready when he came home from his (quote) studies (end quote). Naruto didn't have any idea how the man kept bringing in money, but he wasn't about to complain. As long as he had a roof over his head, clothes on his back and a hot meal, the perv could do whatever he please.

Naruto walked another two blocks before reaching his, he turned the corner after looking both ways across the street (because one should always be careful). It was then that he saw the red locks of a very familiar boy.

"Oi, Gaara!" He ran over to the boy. "Hey, I'm sorry for earlier, I wasn't trying to invade you personal space or anything like that."

Gaara stopped, looking back at the blond. "'S OK." He looked him down, eyeing the gash in the pale orange cargo pants that showed a slight expanse of a bronzed knee.

Naruto paused. Opened his mouth, preparing to speak, then closed it. He opened it again. "So...you're going home?"

"Yes." He turned to walk away again. Naruto hurried to catch up even though he had already walked past his house. Gaara looked back at the blond, a little annoyed to be followed by the nuisance. But he said nothing, only holding a look of annoyance as the boy began to walk beside him.

"I didnt know you lived around here. Did you just move?"

He got no answer.

"So how do you like Konoha?"

Still nothing.

"... You don't talk much do you?"

"..." Gaara quickened his pace, willing the vintage chuck tailors on his feet to move a little faster.

"Guess not. Hey you board?"

A slight shake of the head.

"Oh... Well I do. Me, Neji, Kiba, Ino and Shino sometimes, but not as much, he just likes to stand and watch most of the time. Sakura and Tenten too, Tenten's more of a skater though..." He rambled.

Gaara spun around, glaring into the blue eyes of the teen. "Look. Do you want something?" He asked angrily.

The whiskered teen shook his head, lifting his arms behind it in a laid back pose. "No. Just thought you might like some company." he smiled.

Gaara was taken back. His black rimmed eyes narrowed, making the green in his eyes stand out more. "I don't need company, thanks."

Naruto actually looked hurt. "Oh...well, OK. I'll see you in school tomorrow then." He extended his hand for the second time today, in order to receive a friendly handshake. Gaara stared at the hand in front of him. "It's just a handshake, man. I'm not gonna bite." he said with his flawless smile.

Gaara grabbed the hand that was offered in front of him tentatively. After a few firm shakes, his own thin pale hand was released from the blonde's strong tanned grip. Before the blond let go completely-to Gaara's horror- he noticed the bandages wrapped around his right hand and forearm. He heard Naruto gasp.

"What's that?" He asked, grabbing again for the red head's arm. But Gaara snatched away, hiding his bandaged arm from the boy's curious blue gaze.

"Nothing. I-I gotta go."

He turned and-while not exactly running- sped off into the direction of his home, leaving Naruto behind in stunned silence. He didn't even look back to see if the blond boy was following him or not.

That was way to close, had the boy actually succeeded in seeing his arm he would have noticed the blood stain dried around the cloth wrapped tightly around his wrist. The last thing he needed was a loud mouthed blond, asking about his home life. He refused to repeat the events in Suna. Gaara sighed eyeing his home and the shiny blue/black car parked in the driveway.

"Shit." he thought as he advanced up the walkway, grabbing for his key and opening the door. When he entered the house it was dark, Gaara removed his shoes and stepped into the living room. The downstairs region of his home was painted in a light sand brown color, the furniture coordinated in earth tones to match the walls. Every so often a hanging picture of the desert or family members could be spotted amongst the wall. All in all the place was nice, a lived in home, even though it was new, although it would never feel like home for Gaara. It was also quiet, too quiet for his father's jaguar to be parked in the drive way. Something was definitely wrong, he had too much experience not to know otherwise. He stepped further into the shadowed space, not really reacting when a strong hand reached out and close around his neck and slam him against the painted sand wall.