Disclaimer: We don't own Naruto

Authors: Dawn Catcher and myself!

The Strength to Overcome

Chapter 2- Snow and Sand

Five years later…

A five year old leaned idly against the cold stone wall in a state of half consciousness.

She trembled slightly from the piercing cold within the prison that she had been thrown into and was absently rubbing at the metal rings about her wrists in a pitiful attempt to reach and warm the raw skin underneath.

Suddenly soft tapping echoed through the tiny corridor and her slight moving ceased instantly to listen intently. Had it not been for her keen hearing, the girl would have never heard the steps coming or been able to decipher who it was that made the noise. Instantly a figure stopped before the bars that held the child in holding onto a flickering torch that filled the tiny space with light. The child squinted her eyes but otherwise made no move of acknowledgment.

"Kira, It's time for your training." the man spoke sharply, spitting out the child's name as if it had a foul taste. The man began digging through keys to open the door into the cell not expecting the child to say anything. No one had ever taught her to speak or do anything else other then fight. They only spoke at her and expected her to understand what they meant…a thing that was rather difficult for the young child. Had it not been for the demon who taught her and her own sharp mind, Kira would have been lost.

The girl looked up at him for the first time, brown eyes almost peering into the man's being before them as if searching for something, when a soft click resonated in the chamber. The man looked up as the door swung open and stopped short looking straight into Kira's eyes.

He had felt her watching him with those steady eyes but seeing such a look directed toward himself like that would cause even the most foolish and brash person to pause and think twice. They held a dull and animalistic appearance that masked over the true depth of her emotions and thoughts. There was a hidden wisdom and intelligence reflected that no animal could ever mimic though, coupled with a sharp longing and sadness mixed with a seeming admiration that made the man see the true childish and human quality in what the village viewed as nothing more than a weapon and a monster.

She moved the chains on her wrist slightly, making a dull clank come from them and broke the enchantment placed on by the look. The poor man snapped rigidly at the noise, cursing himself for being reckless enough to meet the child's gaze . He could tell that she wanted to be freed, but she did not dare ask. She was trained never to do such a thing, a weapon such as her never asked for freedom for a weapon only served one purpose, though he knew her heart was begging. He ignored all of this with the aid of skilled practice. After all one did not become a ninja of the last true hidden village without learning to turn ones heart to the hardest of stones.

"You know you have to get out yourself." the man said, glancing at the girl only once as he threw a kunai to her feet.

She stared vaguely at the weapon with suddenly unfocused eyes. Kira looked back at the chains. She knew she had to get out herself, she always had to do it this way. It was part of her "training", learning to escape without the use of any form of jutsu. But this time she thought, maybe...just maybe... It was a stupid and rather hopeless idea. Any hint of kindness toward her was simply unheard of. She was only given the weapon because her "teacher" felt she was still too young and weak to accomplish the feat without it since forged steel restrains were rather difficult to break even for skilled ninja. At once she pivoted the edge of the dull weapon against the steel chain links and snapped it from the cuffs leaving her free from the wall though the signs of her imprisonment still hung from her wrists and ankles.

"You've gotten faster." the man said dully as he lifted the kunai from where she dropped it, twirling it idly between his fingers. "I'll add a collar tonight and perhaps see if you no longer need this old weapon." Kira stood rigidly, not a flicker of emotion passing over her dirt stained face. Behind those vacant eyes though was her own smoldering anger that was accompanied by aggravated snarls. The man turned briskly and her hand flew to her neck where her new symbol of constraint was to be before letting her hand fall to her side again.

The man stepped from the cell and made a gruff gesture of accompaniment to the child before heading down the hall. The little girl trotted along impassively.

Kira slowly approached her sensei. As the man who had previously led paused at the door. The man stood as a towering figure before the slight frame of the child as she paused in the center of the room. Her eyes were as void of light as usual as her stare fell blankly ahead of her. The man sneered at the child before throwing a needle in her direction. The little projectile missed by a hairs length as the girl shifted out of the way at the last moment. The tiny projectile lodged itself halfway into the wooden floor behind her.

"I see your as your reaction is becoming better." The man chuckled with derision as he began to pace the room. "I suppose you will be ready for your first mission…" He muttered indolently as he gazed with a perceptive wistfulness at the ceiling while shooting her a sly look from the corner of his eye. The child was as stationary as ever though her mind flickered to life behind her blank mask. The man frowned at the lack of change in his little weapon. Despite his own drillings for her to be an emotionless assassin that only struck on command, the man grew a cruel pleasure of physically reinforcing such facts and received a sick enjoyment when she slipped up.

Hiding his disappointment, he proceeded on with the reason why the child had been summoned. "The mission is simple, our village needs to reaffirm ties with the other more known villages. You will be accompanying me as a body guard and as your fist test in a mission while we visit Suna and Konoha. Do you understand all that?" Kira gave a curt nod but otherwise was motionless, not even moving her gaze from the dirt covered wall. "We will be leaving tonight…Oh, and be aware that the slightest mistake…well, lets say it will prove to be your last." He then called, addressing the man at the door suddenly, "Take her back to her cell. She will need to rest. Don't bother with the restraints." The man nodded as left the room with the girl in tow once again. They arrived at her cell and the man locked her in before heading down the dark corridor.

Once Kira was left with her thoughts and fell into a meditative state. She found herself thrown within the mists of a blizzard. The snow mixed with ice swirled wildly in the storm as it fell in relentless little flakes. She rose her small hand to her eyes to shield them from the biting ice that lashed out at her exposed skin and clouded her vision.

The wind whipped and howled through the black and baron trees as their branches laced with a thick coating of ice cracked, snapped, and clicked savagely as they were tossed by the raging wind like the crackling of a wild and uncontrollable fire. The blackened sky was a direct contrast to the white ground cast in shadows from the surrounding trees. It was in this frozen waste that her mind presented itself and the cage of her demon.

She pressed on through the storms fury, releasing small puffs of white smoke that vanished instantly before her half lidded eyes, taken mercilessly by the rushing wind. Snow soon clung heavily to her eyelashes and hair. After a bit of walking through the darkened woods, she came upon a clearing with a stone within the center. With a corner fluttering in the wind , a slip of paper was pressed upon the rock with the kanji for "seal" scribed across it. She stood still with her brown eyes piercing through the whiteness for the slightest sign of another being within the area. From the snow she caught sight of two crimson eyes that appeared as stains of blood upon the pure landscape.

A slight smirk crossed the features of the young girl. As she watched the snow swirl and hide the two spots of color from view before a cold wind brushed against her and she turned to look into those swirling blood red eyes once more. The wolf demon looked at her host with guarded, seemingly apathetic eyes and her gaze was met with the same expression. The snow white wolf vanished in a puff of snow and wind leaving a another form perched delicately on the rock a few feet away.

Her silvery hair blew wildly along with the wind as if in tune with her spirit as her tail curled around her. Her pale skin looked as if it had been cast from the surrounding snow as white ears, tipped with the slight greyer color twitched in the cold. Her position radiated a lax carelessness from her seat as the other girl moved forward. The two people seemed like polar opposites as one presented the visage of pure white while the other was cloaked in black and yet the two looked all the more the same for such contrasting appearances.

"Why are you searching me out?" The demon abruptly asked in a dismissive growl.

"Tsuki, I was sure you would know that…" Kira spoke, wit sparked playfully behind her intelligent chocolate eyes now void of their usual mask. It was only in the sanctuary (if one could call it that) of her own mind did Kira dare speak. She had been taught by the demon before her just as the demon had taken it upon herself to teach the child other things of "interest" that she felt the young girl needed to know.

The demon shot her a playful glance. "Your lovely 'mission'? Do what they say with it…if anything unusual occurs, I'll show you what to do. This should be fun though…" Tsuki then turned her back but paused just before vanishing into the snow, "After all, this will teach you for when your ready to abandon this cage…" and with that, she disappeared into the snow. Before Kira could think on those parting words, she was thrown back into her tiny home of stone and metal chains.

Gaara drew his knees closer to him as he looked out into the vast expanse of sand before him. The child's sole companion clutched firmly in his grasp. The shimmer of unshed tears glazed his over his saddened eyes reflecting the vacant loneliness of the barren desert. Before the child even realized his actions, he whispered out to the empty darkness, "I'm not a monster…" His cracked voice startling himself. Gaara pressed his eyes shut and brought his tiny body into a tighter ball as scenes from earlier that night replayed in his head. The words his father spoke echoing in his ears calling him that hated word.

A harsh and maniacal laughter assaulted Gaara's mind breaking him from his miserable daze. "Not a monster, aye? The whole village begs to differ! You should just kill them all!" A booming voice called out. The sand around Gaara began to get agitated and shift sporadically about the boy.

"Shut up!" Gaara cried aloud into the darkness as the laughter continued, only increasing in volume. "Just leave me alone.." he whispered in defeat as the voice continued to taunt him all the while, laughing with an insane madness that wore on the boy's sanity. When the sun began to break over the bleak horizon, the crazed laughter finally subsided and the presence in Gaara's mind faded. The sand stilled around him and the child was left a whimpering mess as he clung to himself with desperation.

It was a good hour or so, when the sun had risen a good distance from the horizon, when Gaara came out of his dejected state. A little longer after that he noticed the desolate expanse of sand beyond the village walls was not so bare. A wash of anxiety swept over him that he couldn't explain as Gaara made out the figures of an older man who was clearly from another village and a small child following stiffly behind. Something about the new strangers as they approached the wall left an uneasy feeling within Gaara. He watched curiously until they completely disappeared from his view before mentally shaking himself of the feeling and going out into the newly awakened village.

Gaara didn't honestly like being in the village during the day but it was better than hiding alone somewhere away from people. It gave him the smallest sense that he was a part of humanity and a part of this village despite what everyone said and how they viewed him. He was content in his removed state as long as he was not completely and utterly alone until he found children his own age. A sharp pang of anguish struck him as he watched them playing.

He stared longingly until one of the kids noticed him and they all took off shouting cruel words as they fled. He was about to call out to them to wait and the sand began dancing at his feet when the wave of uneasiness from earlier hit him again. This time the feeling was accompanied by the stirring of his demon in the recesses of his mind. He froze, the word dying on his lips and the sand lying lifelessly by his feet. A forced compelled him to turn around just in time to see the girl from earlier walk past casting him a sky glance as she went. His heart paused for a moment and the demon in his mind began shrieking to leave and get away from the girl. For the first time in his life, Gaara agreed with the demon and fled the area.

Kira tailed her sensei as they moved through the streets of Suna. Her tiny feet were aching from the five days of walking from her own village to Suna and sorely tempted to complain about the ridiculous heat and sun and beg to return to her cool dark prison. Tsuki wasn't much help either muttering every other minute about disliking hot, arid places and how miserable it was in her sarcastic manner throughout a good portion of the trip. The young girl was excited non the less to see the world beyond her small confines and continued to plod along., ignoring the sardonic voice in her mind and the chastising from her sensei.

That is until a strange presence struck her. From the moment she had come to the outer walls of Suna, Kira had felt an unexplainable nervousness and her demon had fallen into silence. The expelled the feeling for simple nerves of being around people for the first time and was glad of her sensei's presence for the fist time in her life, feeling the slight impulse to hide behind his back and clutch to his form for protection.

She bit her lip as she moved though the streets, memorizing each turn and building with a precision that would be difficult to match. She had every intention of learning the layout of the village under the chance that adverse events should arise. It was down one of the streets that she looked over in order to remember it that she nearly tripped over herself.

A boy stood there with red hair and teal eyes staring blankly at her. The uneasy feeling in her increased nearly ten fold as she met his piercing gaze. It was Tsuki who suddenly urged the girl to continue walking and get away from the boy. As soon as he was out of her sight, Kira's mind cleared. "Who was that?" she thought bluntly.

"He seems to be another jinchuuriki based on his power…" the demon mused.

"What?" She exclaimed mentally

"A demon vessel like yourself."

"There are others?" Kira was stunned to say the least a rush of relieve swept over her to know that she was not the only one. The world had seemed considerably more lonely when she had thought she was the only one like herself doomed to the fate forced on by others.

"Yes, it would seem so. There are several other tailed demons, nine to be exact, and I'm not surprised to see others sealed away as well."

Kira was about to reply when a cutting voice from the outside world snapped her from her conversation. "Kira, you are to stay in the room silently while I meet with the Kazekage." her sensei's voice rang out. She blinked her eyes dully and nodded. The man smirked before reaching into a pocket and drawing forth a single sheet of paper. Before Kira could react, the slip of paper was placed over her other seal and a burning sensation washed over her body as she found herself nearly paralyzed. Her sensei grinned as the pain flashed briefly across her features before turning to leave. "Don't move until I return!" he called back with a laugh and went through the door.

It wasn't until far later in the night when Kira's sensei returned in a drunken state and removed the seal absently with fumbling hands. She watched him blankly as he slurred threats at her and made the error of meeting her gaze. Her chocolate eyes flashed yellow for an instant and the man slumped heavily to the floor. Kira smirked and left silently from the room.

Gaara wandered aimlessly about through the darkened streets, his head hung low to avoid the knowledge that he was the only one out there. He made to turn around a corner when a hard object slammed into him sending him backwards to fall into the sand which caught him.

Dark rimmed eyes blinked in confusion before seeing another small form sitting on the ground rubbing her forehead, eyes scrunched tight. When she finally stopped her ministrations to her sore head and looked up both children froze. For a long moment both stared rigidly at the other before the girl jumped to her feet. She whispered out in a raspy voice that sounded like it hadn't been used in ages, "The boy from earlier."

Gaara blinked stupidly, giving a fine impression of a deer in headlights. "W-who are you?" he finally managed out.

"Kira" she mutter as if rather wouldn't have said. For some odd reason she found herself trusting him. "You?"

Gaara wished he hadn't asked the question. As soon as this girl, Kira, knew his name, she would run off like all the others. "Gaara" he whispered.

To say the least, he was suddenly surprised when he she didn't turn running. "Gaara" she whispered coarsely, wrapping the foreign name around her tongue. She smiled at him crookedly as if she had never smiled before and Gaara couldn't help but return the gesture. It was in that moment that the uneasiness he had felt toward the strange girl vanished.

Kira grinned at the boy, all previous trepidations removed. She had been surprised by the boy's peculiar ability of manipulating sand (something she had met head on when her forehead had slammed into a wall of said substance) but the sad loneliness of his eyes that reminded her so much of her own eyes made her stay still. The words of her demon rang through her head again, 'a demon vessel like yourself'. Speaking of which, Kira realized her demon had been strangely silent from her usual sarcastic and boisterous disposition. She cast it off as an after effect from the seal she had worn before which had successively isolated her from the demon as well as making her feel as if her entire self was set in flames. Kira was awoken from her musings when she heard an excited cry.

"Will you play with me?" Gaara's eyes shined with all the hope in the world. Kira couldn't help but widen her smile at his hopefulness just before the words sunk in and a confused expression crossed her features.

"Play?" asked Kira, eyebrows furrowed as she muttered the foreign word. She really didn't know what that meant. It had to be different than training or battle and something about the word was vaguely familiar as if she should have known its meaning. "What is play?"

Gaara looked confused and slightly shocked. He had never played before but had watched many other kids do it and surely this girl knew what playing was and had done it before. But her eyes said different. How was he suppose to explain something he himself was unfamiliar with?

"You know, when you do something fun." Gaara said.

"Fun." Kira repeated. "Does it…hurt?" She muttered feeling foolish for not understanding.

"No," Gaara said as his small smile returned, "it's something you do with friends." Gaara's eyes filled with hope once more. He bit his lip slightly in hope that she wouldn't run from the word.

Friends, Kira vaguely knew that word and it was something she had always longed for. "Sure." she assented with an equal enthusiasm from when he had asked. Gaara reached his tiny hand out to hers.

Being deprived of human contact for her entire life, with the exception of being roughly beaten or shoved about, it was only a natural reaction to recoil from the possibility of being touched. Kira flinched back visibly when the red head offer to take her hand in his. His eyes instantly saddened and drew his hand back in shame. Kira looked at Gaara in confusion, a pang of guilt striking her. Why was he suddenly so sad? It suddenly registered with her, he thought she was afraid of him…The thought struck her like a knife to the chest. She grasped his hand in her own and looked sincerely into his shocked eyes, "What would you like to play?"

It was hard to replace the apathetic mask when Kira slipped back into the room as the sun began to rise. She had finally felt what it was like to be more like a normal child and not a weapon void of emotion. The idea of finally abandoning her prison flashed in her mind along with the possibilities of a more normal life. She had tasted the concept of freedom for the first time and sorely wanted to cling to it. She was awoken from her pleasant daydreaming when a muffled sound rose from her sensei as he began to come to. He finally became conscious only to glance at the time and give a harsh curse. Kira snapped back her façade as he sent her a cold glare.

"I am to meet with the Kazekage today and you will be accompanying me. Do not make a single error. We will leave this city afterwards if all goes as planned." Kira simply stared ahead of her as her sensei prepared to leave and then followed him silently to the Kazekage's tower.

When she entered the room in which the meeting was to preside though, Kira found to things out. The first was that she had an immediate distain for the Kazekage, and the second was that Gaara stood stiffly at his side. She almost couldn't hide a smirk from the irony of having to children serve as the bodyguards within the meeting…but then again, that would be making herself and Gaara appear as regular children rather then the dehumanized weapons they had been trained as.

The meeting lasted for most of the day, with Kira not paying any attention to it and it ended as was to be expected without any surprises. Kira was then ushered out of the office with a pang of regret at not being able to say farewell to the boy across the room. As the two left the village, Kira shot a glance back to see a small figure on the distant wall. She knew that that would not be their final encounter.

Authors' Notes:

We finally updated (all my fault for the delay by the way)!! Hope you liked the chapter. Thank you to everyone who read and a special thanks to Raidon Phantom for the review!

Review Reply:

Raidon Phantom: Thank you so much for the review! Glad you like it so far. To answer your question, no the pairing is not going to be narugaa, but we are planning on having pairings later on in the story!

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