Disclaimer: the characters in this fic such as Gaara, Kankuro, Temari, etc. don't belong to me, although if they did, then they would probably bicker with each other a lot for maximum hilarity, hehehe.

Dedication: God, my parents, my fans, Masashi Kishimoto for creating the Naruto series and giving us these colorful characters, and especially to my beloved friends, especially VGuyver, Andrew Glasco, Musashi Sanada, Francisco, Ariescelestial, and all of you other wonderful readers!!

Special dedication to: Kzdatgurl, one of my awesome readers that requested a set of 20 truths on Matsuri – this is my thanks to her for reading and reviewing my works.

Naruto: 20 Rope Dart Burns

(20 Truths About Matsuri)

By Tiger5913

Theme #1 – Perspective

The first time Matsuri catches a glimpse of the fearsome sand wielder, she is just a little girl.

Before she can take a second look, her mother quickly ushers her away and orders her not to look at the young demon vessel. He is evil, she insists, and anyone who gets too close to him will undoubtedly be harmed.

Years later, Matsuri still remembers the words lingering in the back of her mind, but she doesn't share her mother's perspective. Of course, she loves and respects her parents, but the brunette would rather make her own decision in this instance.

Theme #2 – Orphan

She will always remember her twelfth birthday, because her parents had died around that time.

The small family of three travels over to the neighboring River country for a brief vacation – it has been a while since their last one – and also to celebrate Matsuri's birthday.

On their way back to Suna, they are attacked by a group of bandits. When the situation turns violent, her parents urge the young girl to run into the forest and hide until it's safe to come back out.

But then they are both killed, and on that day, Matsuri is made an orphan.

Theme #3 – Immobile

She tries to command her body to move, to stand and run to help her dying parents, but all of her muscles are frozen stiff. The sight of their bodies getting skewered right in front of her eyes is absolutely dreadful, too frightening for her mind to register at first. Her head slowly turns to look at the side, where a knife is embedded into the thick trunk of the tree adjacent to her position. She just came so close to being killed…

After the bandits leave, Matsuri shakes uncontrollably for a long time, hating herself and her cowardly weakness.

Theme #4 – Helpless

Matsuri has become rather withdrawn after her parents' deaths, and some of her friends start to drift away upon realizing the depth of her depression.

She's hurt by their insensitivity, but it wakes her up enough to make the girl realize that she needs to do something with her life. She needs to change her ways in order to make sure the people she cares about won't be hurt. The world can be a dangerous place, after all, and Matsuri refuses to remain helpless and frail in the face of adversity.

Maybe when she likes herself, she'll make new friends.

Theme #5 – Alone

With her parents gone, she has to find a way to support herself. Luckily, she has a small house to stay in, but that only covers the living situation. The girl knows there are a number of places she can work at to solve her financial problem, and she ponders over which one she would prefer the most.

Upon hearing word of the ninja academy, her interest is immediately perked. Matsuri decides to attend the first session to see how it goes, if she can fit in.

Maybe it would make her stronger, and then she can be somewhat useful…

Theme #6 – Fear

As all of the other Genin quickly make their choices, the girl stands back and only considers one of the three to train under. The powerful and deadly Gaara of the Desert… she has heard so many stories about him from the other villagers in Suna, but she is sure that some of them are exaggerated. Admittedly, she isn't completely absent of fear herself.

However, Matsuri also doubts that the boy standing in front of her is really so cruel and heartless as they say. There is longing in his eyes…

She bravely steps toward Gaara, and everyone is surprised.

Theme #7 – Guilt

After her parents are gone, Matsuri hesitates to get close to others, fearing that one day, she will become a burden to them as well. If she let her own parents die, then how can she possibly protect anyone else?

She's extra agreeable and pleasing to her friends, and even more yielding to some of the people that she doesn't like, just so she can avoid conflict. Her naïve and somewhat gullible nature leaves her vulnerable to be taken advantage of by the more fiendish individuals.

Fortunately, when Matsuri begins training to become a shinobi, her eyes are quickly opened.

Theme #8 – Gaara

The very first lesson she learns from Gaara is how to use weapons to protect other people. Honestly, she's a little surprised to see Suna's ultimate weapon using his powers to save his comrade's life. Matsuri realizes in that very instant just how wrong the villagers are about him… She looks down at the rope dart clutched tightly in her hands, and is determined to do all that she can to help their fight.

Gaara soon becomes someone very important to her… someone definitely worth fighting for, and even if he doesn't know this, she's willing to die for him.

Theme #9 – Student

She has no regrets or any inhibitions about being Gaara's student, but sometimes, she is amazed at the amount of patience he has with her.

The first two weeks are trying for the both of them. Her taijutsu is clumsy, her ninjutsu techniques lack adequate chakra, and she has a difficult time seeing through genjutsu illusions. Whenever Matsuri performs a task unsuccessfully, she expects the skilled redhead to get frustrated with her.

But Gaara always remains calm and tells her to keep repeating it until she does it correctly. She pushes herself to be the best student for her sensei.

Theme #10 – Merciful

Even though she is a ninja and must engage in combat sometimes, Matsuri doesn't like to harm others, let alone kill anyone. She only uses force for the sake of protecting someone, like one of her teammates on a mission, or a friend from getting hurt. On several occasions, her sensei has remarked that she lacks the aggressive edge most shinobi need to succeed. Gaara tells the girl that if it ever comes down to the enemy's life or her own, she cannot afford to be merciful in that instance.

Matsuri secretly hopes she won't have to make that choice…

Theme #11 – Honor

They have been her friends for a while, but today, they are crossing the line way too far. She can't stand all the badmouthing and harsh jibs that they direct at her sensei, with such cruel and malicious intent. They sound just like the other close-minded and prejudiced adults that are always staring at Gaara with blatant expressions of disdain and revulsion. She's never felt so ashamed of knowing them, and after they exchange some harsh words, the girl turns to leave.

Matsuri prefers to retain her dignity and stand by her honorable sensei rather than associating with hateful people.

Theme #12 – Shunned

The timid weapon-phobic Genin doesn't think about what will happen to her reputation as she steps forward and asks Gaara to be her teacher. The other young students look at her like she's crazy, but she tries her best to ignore their scrutiny. It's not like she's here to please them, anyway; Matsuri wants to be a ninja of her own volition, and she will pursue her goal fervently.

She's shunned even more for being Gaara's student, but she doesn't care. It feels wonderfully marvelous to be the first Genin out of the entire group to pass the Chunin exam.

Theme #13 – Chunin

At 13, she takes the Chunin exam for the first time. She feels very nervous and tries to keep herself calm as she travels to Konoha with Temari, Kankuro, and her sensei.

Temari and Kankuro repeatedly assure her that it's nothing to be scared about; but they are already Chunin, and currently working to become Jonin.

Gaara simply states that he believes in her abilities, and she shouldn't worry.

When she finds out that she has passed – just barely, in her opinion – the girl immediately wonders what Gaara will think about her achievement. Matsuri hopes he is proud of her…

Theme #14 – Preferences

There's no question that Matsuri is a skilled and dedicated kunoichi, but she likes to retain a bit of her feminine side by wearing skirts.

Some of the other shinobi insist that shorts or pants would be best for battle mobility, but she still dons skirts. Really, what does her choice of attire have anything to do with her capability to carry out a mission? Temari is an excellent ninja, and she prefers skirts as well.

Matsuri simply smiles at all the advice, but she doesn't listen to them. Skirt or not, she can still beat them in a fight.

Theme #15 – Jonin

Matsuri is a little intimidated by the prospect of becoming a Jonin – she's not sure if she can really reach that level. On occasion when they're on the same team for a mission, the young brunette is instructed to guard the item they retrieved from some place, so she stays back and watches Temari and Kankuro fight the enemies.

They are both very skilled and can dispatch their foes rather quickly, whereas Matsuri usually takes her time, being careful not to inflict any fatal blows.

In a dark corner of her mind, she wonders if she is a worthless ninja…

Theme #16 – Competition

When Gaara becomes the Kazekage, he suddenly has a huge following of adoring girls that are all vying for his attention, much to Matsuri's dismay.

Temari teases the brunette about having a lot of competition, but she admits that she would prefer her younger brother to be with Matsuri than one of those ditzy, airheaded groupies. The girl blushes and murmurs that she doesn't think Gaara likes her that way… but of course she will take care of him regardless of their relationship.

Matsuri has been with the redhead since the beginning, so surely she means something important to him…

Theme #17 – Relief

Seeing Gaara lying on the ground is almost as painful as watching her parents getting killed right before her eyes. In his desire to protect the village, their beloved Kazekage has died… and the rogue ninja that did the kidnapping has escaped with his life.

When Gaara slowly sits up and gazes at the others in awe, Matsuri is struck with such strong relief and gratitude that she can't even cry.

The girl wants to run right over and hug him, but she barely restrains herself – now is not the best time. Maybe later, if she can catch him alone…

Theme #18 – Temari

Training so closely under Gaara means she is constantly around his siblings as well, and the girl quickly regards Temari as an older sister figure, a role model for the ideal kunoichi that she would like to be herself.

Two-and-a-half years of interacting with the raucous wind mistress has turned Matsuri into a very outspoken young lady, and she doesn't hesitate to smack certain people for stepping out of line.

When Kankuro complains that it feels like he now has another annoying and noisy sister, Matsuri gets a nod of encouragement from Temari before she hits him upside his head.

Theme #19 – Kankuro

Matsuri doesn't bond with Kankuro very easily because of his attitude toward people that are both younger and weaker than him. She hears from Temari that he even despised Gaara for a long time before the two brothers were finally able to get along with each other. Upon learning that, Matsuri immediately thinks about what she can do to earn Kankuro's respect.

It's thanks to Gaara's vigorous training and her own determination to succeed that she is able to become stronger. On the day that she becomes a Jonin, Kankuro finally flashes her a grin as he says his congratulations.

Theme #20 – Waiting

While her friends are starting to date, Matsuri stays single and decides to politely decline any invitations for dates, unless the right person proposes the question to her.

The first few boys appear quite surprised by her answer, and one of them asks Matsuri why she won't go out with him.

To this, she simply blushes a bit, and then promptly ducks her head down as she murmurs an apology, but doesn't give an explanation for her refusal. He shrugs in confusion and walks away.

They don't know that she is patiently waiting for a certain redhead to notice her…

The End

Author's Note: Here it is, 20 truths on Matsuri! I had a lot of fun with this one; I tried to stick to canon as closely as possible, but thankfully, there are also a lot of open possibilities for Matsuri. It was kind of hard to resist my urges to focus on her connection with Gaara – but I deliberately stayed away from themes that required a romantic connotation. Though I gave this my best effort, I don't think I write gen very well… ugh. Anyway, like the Gaara set before, I went with themes and present tense again, just to be consistent. (Ariescelestial, I totally blame you for corrupting me with your present tense usage, eek!) Again, I put all of these in chronological order, but I wholeheartedly encourage questions if there is any confusion on the timeline.

So, um, I hope I did all right with this set, heh. Readers, please leave a review and let me know what you think about these 20 truths on Matsuri!

With love for my fans,