A/N: This story is just for fun. I will finish it, probably in four parts, but not on any time line. Hope you get some enjoyment out of it!
Gaara was having a bad day.
'Scratch that,' he thought, glaring at the wire cage surrounding him, he had a bad day when he was stuck in council meetings listening to old men natter about duty and treaties instead of letting him do his job as he saw fit. Yes, thirteen hours of meetings in one fell swoop- that was a bad day.
He had a bad day when he had to figure how to provide a village of four thousand people with daily water during a nasty drought in the middle of summer. He had a bad day when his cowlick wouldn't lay flat and his chin was splattered with that one annoying, reoccurring pimple that popped up whenever he was stressed. He had a bad day when Temari left weird girly things in the down stairs bathroom and he traumatized himself attempting to figure them all out.
Those were bad days. This day was a disaster.
He'd been summoned to the council room and was taken aback at the stern, aged looks on the faces of the advisors before him. Usually the old men resigned themselves to emoting placid boredom and overwhelming condescension. For them to look worried... Something big was going on and Gaara could tell he really didn't want to know what it was.
"Great Kazekage, wise and benevolent leader," Shin, one of the eldest of the elders, began to drone, but Gaara cut him off with a wave of his hand. He knew it would take Shin years to get to the point, and he wanted answers now.
"We can save formalities," he said quietly, narrowing his eyes in irritation. If there was one thing Gaara hated it was missing important information. The elders were concerned about something. They could either hem and haw and take fifteen eons to spit it out, or they could tell him immediately and let him kill it, whatever it was.
"I can tell something important has occurred," Gaara continued, pacing towards his desk to be seated with an unhurried gait, "so why don't we get right down to business. What's happened, and why does it concern me?"
He said it with such a droll, cold voice and such a direct look in his eyes that his council was immediately reminded that their kazekage was no ordinary man to be kept waiting. He may have found a new reason to exist and may have dedicated himself to bettering the lives of his sand village, but at heart Gaara was an impatient killer. It was unsettling how easy it was to forget.
Daiki, one of the younger and less long-winded of the elders, quickly took over, raising a hand to keep the others quiet. Secretly he was happy to work for Gaara, as he himself found the ramblings of the other old men enough to try the patience of a saint.
"Kazekage," he began, steepling his fingers and resting his chin on his hands, "this morning it was discovered that someone broke into the library in an effort to remove the hidden, secret village scrolls contained in the vault under the library's foundation. The attack was executed with much skill, utilizing techniques known only to Suna shinobi. Three guards were incapacitated with high level jutsu, two of which will be out of commission for months recovering. The fight must have been incredible because out of seven guards, none could give any description of the attacker and none seem to remember how it began or ended. They are all pleading ignorance and bafflement."
At that, Gaara scowled. Either their opponent was terribly skilled, which would be bad, or he had others working in conjunction with him on the inside, influencing the guards surrounding the scrolls. That would be worse.
"Were the thieves successful?" Gaara asked, wondering why even his most direct council member seemed to take a while to lay out all the important facts.
Daiki tried not to roll his eyes or show any other outward sign of annoyance. Did his kazekage really need to act as if the answers to his questions weren't going to be the very next thing out of his mouth? He knew better than to express this frustration, however. Instead he simply answered the question with no more preliminaries.
"They removed two scrolls. We're attempting to determine which were taken. The cataloging system is unfortunately a little messy and the archives are not regularly attended or reorganized after use. Consequentially, there are scrolls in the wrong spots and several in stacks in the corners. The lead librarian has been called in to do a full inventory."
"Do we have any guesses as to what might be gone? Any clues could give us something to go on," Gaara asked, trying to stay patient with the situation. He hoped they could give him some pieces to a puzzle, something to glue together in order to determine who would be daring enough to face his wrath. They must have been after something very important in order to risk making Gaara angry.
"It's too early to tell," Daiki cautioned, looking torn between placating the kazekage and feeling happy to be giving something to occupy his mind, "but one of the scrolls was taken from the slot meant for the Dehydration Desert Winds Jutsu."
This troubled Gaara. That jutsu was forbidden in the desert for a reason. It was nasty and debilitating, affecting an incredibly large area at a time. All life forms within one hundred yards of the performer were instantly robbed of all water, leaving nothing but lifeless husks behind. It was once used by the kazekage during times of war before it was discovered that the effects of the jutsu extended below ground as well. Suna had lost important reserves of ground water fifty years ago thanks to the overuse of this technique.
They needed to find who had this jutsu and they needed to find them now. It would be a perfect terrorist weapon, capable of killing a building full of people before anyone could do a thing to stop it. Only someone ruthless and malevolent would even consider such a jutsu; it preyed on the one thing citizens of the desert worked to avoid most. Complete dehydration.
"And there are no leads on who could be responsible?" Gaara grit out, clenching his fists on either side as he restrained himself. Shouting or losing his temper would get him no where. The scrolls were gone and his people were aware of the situation. That was really all that mattered. The perpetrator would be found in time. It wouldn't do to lash out at his council, even if they gave him nothing to go on.
"No, Kazekage," Daiki responded, relieved that he seemed to be taking things more or less in stride. It was no secret that Gaara hated to be apprised of a situation that left him with no recourse or means of fixing things. Sitting back and waiting were two things their leader did poorly.
"Very well," Gaara said finally, mentally reviewing what they knew. Powerful, familiar jutsu used to incapacitate seven guards, leaving no evidence and no leads. Two as-of-yet unidentified stolen scrolls, one of which may be an extremely effective weapon of mass destruction. It wasn't much to go on, but it was all he had.
"Have the head librarian report to me directly when we have identified the missing scrolls," Gaara began, making a mental checklist and looking at each council member in turn as he spoke. "Have our agents go over the scene carefully for any additional clues. I want to know entry points, weapons used, marks left on the guards. I want an account of what those morons were doing right before the attack. I want to see pictures of any damage left behind. Get started."
With this Gaara stood abruptly, turning to stalk out of the room as he heard the council members give their assent. Gaara walked straight to his office, briefly considering going to the crime scene himself before dismissing the idea. He had no real gift for clues and details. He was plenty intelligent but his abilities shone in battle and in cunning. He knew his forensics crew was more than capable of handling this mess without him there to add to the clutter.
Instead he sat down in his chair, regarding the paperwork stacked in front of him. There was the same mess of uninteresting files and folders in front of him, making him wonder for the thousandth time why anyone thought the strongest ninjas in the hidden villages should be burdened with such mundane tasks. This was not what they trained for. This was not their purpose.
Gaara's purpose was to protect and serve his people in order to win their love. It was something he worked for constantly, always aware that he fought a battle against his past and his people's fear. They may never forget that he once killed indiscriminately and walked in madness. They may always act with reserved respect instead of open welcome, but it was a start. The look of acceptance, even if it lacked warmth, was still better than the terror and hatred he'd grown up with.
With his purpose once again firmly in mind, Gaara took one last contemptuous look at the piles of paperwork in front of him before leaping to his feet and striding to the window. He opened it quickly and in a flash of movement no normal eye could follow, he was gone from his building, running across the rooftops as he formulated a plan. He would hire a secretary to sort through his administrative mess, he vowed. Only the most critical items would find their way to his desk. The rest could be fed to the clerks and stamped for all he cared. He was off to go amongst his people, searching for anyone who looked suspicious. It was a long shot, but made him feel better than getting ink on his fingers all day.
Gaara knew this jutsu himself. He knew it required a bag of salt, infused with chakra and wind. Salt was in ready supply, available from any grocery store in the city, but perhaps he could find someone who'd sold over a pound of it in the last little while. That would have been interesting enough to leave an impression on a shop keeper.
He approached the first shop only blocks away from his office and landed softly on the streets. He was just about to enter when he heard a familiar voice yelling at him from across the street.
"Gaara!" Naruto bellowed, causing heads to turn as an orange and black streak barreled down the road to reach the unimpressed kazekage. Without warning Gaara found himself caught up in the tightest, most breath stealing hug he'd received in a long time- at least since Naruto had laid one on him upon arrival in Suna one week ago- as his citizens were torn between laughing nervously and backing up to get out of the way of the inevitable explosion of temper.
Imagine their shock when Gaara did not kill Naruto for this invasion, but instead sighed and used all his upper body strength to pry the blonde barnicle off his esteemed person.
"Naruto," he said, with no inflection in his voice, "I thought you were going to be at the Suna Museum all day. What are you doing out here?"
"That stuffy old place was Bor-ing!" Naruto yelled, causing a vein to pop in Gaara's forehead. He himself liked the many exhibits in the museum. They were fascinating and worthwhile. It slightly annoyed him to hear Naruto dismiss them so easily, but not surprising really. The blond loudmouth was better at fighting than appreciating culture.
"I decided to come out and get some ice cream!" Naruto continued, pulling away to show the kazekage that he'd been embraced by two arms holding a chocolate cone each, which had taken the liberty of dripping down his back. Naruto noticed this at the same time and smiled in sheepish alarm, backing up enough to give him time to assume a defensive stance if necessary.
Gaara thought about killing the Leaf ninja for a brief moment as sand started shifting beneath his feet. He could hear the crowd around him murmuring, backing up further as they awaited the outpouring of his wrath. For five seconds the town held its breath as Gaara decided what to do.
Finally he let his shoulders relax, shaking off some of the tension that had him wound up like a spring. The sand stopped swirling and Naruto released his defensive stance. Without a word Gaara stalked up to Naruto, looked him in the eye, and swiped one of his ice cream cones, eating it as Naruto caught on to what he'd done.
"No fair, Gaara!" he yelled, waving his arms in the air almost hard enough to shake his remaining cone onto the ground. "I was going to eat that!"
His protests were half hearted, however. He was mostly glad he wasn't eating sand right now.
After a minute Naruto started eating his own cone again, looking at the content red head as he licked the stolen treat in obvious enjoyment.
"What are you doing today, Gaara?" he asked, hoping to be invited along to something interesting. He was in Suna to guard a visiting Konoha dignitary and wouldn't be leaving for home until tomorrow. It had been a long and boring week for the overactive blond and he wanted to see some action. Maybe Gaara would agree to a spar. He could use the workout.
"I'm busy," Gaara said in clipped tones. He was wasting time here. It was time to move on, even if he did like Naruto's company in small doses. He still had to ask several storekeepers if any suspicious patrons had come through. It could take the better part of the day, so it was time to start now.
"Okay," Naruto said, disappointment obvious in his voice. "If you say so, I'll get going."
"I've got work to do," Gaara said bluntly, not once considering a more tactful way of dismissing his ninja friend.
Naruto pouted for a moment but perked up in record time, punching his fist in the air and shouting, "I've got it! I'll go to the bath houses!"
Gaara didn't want to know what the man had planned. It was probably better for his sanity if he didn't think about it too long. Besides, if Naruto planned on a little peaking he'd be in for a nasty surprise. Suna women were vicious. When they caught you there was no shrieking and covering up. There was just pain. It almost made Gaara smirk. Let the pervert find out on his own.
Just as Naruto turned to go with a big wave over his shoulder, Gaara felt the killing aura hit him. He turned around to fight just as the jutsu hit, knocking him from his feet.
He could hear Naruto yell and see yellow hair fill his vision as suddenly his skin felt two sizes too small. It was shrinking, getting tighter and tighter and the world was swimming in his vision. There was pain, lots of it, and he yelled and writhed as sand exploded in aimless confusion. Before he knew it he passed out, wondering why suddenly Naruto was so huge compared to him, and why he had a craving for grass.
He woke to stare directly up the ugliest, hairiest nostrils he'd ever seen. Seven pair of them. For a moment the caverns stunned him into immobility, with their wheezing, whistling, and torrential airflow. He was disoriented and terrified and his little heart beat a mile a minute. He let out a high pitched 'Screech!' and scurried into the corner of a wire cage, pressed against the sides as close as he could be without becoming paint.
That's when it hit him. He normally never screeched. Something was definitely wrong.
The nostrils lowered and disappeared until he saw gigantic eyes in set in monstrously huge faces, peering down at him with freak show curiosity. He looked around himself taking in his surroundings. Wood chips, wire mesh, a plastic water bottle filled with water with a licking ball at the end of a tube. A cage for a hamster.
Closing his eyes before opening them slowly to face the facts, Gaara discovered the horrible truth. He'd been turned into a rodent. And not a very cute one at that.
Which is how the great Kazekage of Suna, Gaara of the Desert, became the ward of the great blond buffoon of Konoha. His council members had apparently been deep in discussion with the man while Gaara was unconscious. He listened as they recapped their plan. Naruto would take the Gaara hamster out of Suna and keep him under his protection. They would go to Konoha where Tsunade would examine him. None of Suna's medics had any idea how to reverse what had been done to the kazekage. It would take one of the legendary Sannins to sort it out.
Gaara, being a rodent incapable of speech, had no say in the matter. He didn't get to tell them he had no desire to be in the care of a man who walked around town with his fly open half the time. He didn't get to tell them the exercise ball was a little bit much. He didn't get to tell them he thought he might be allergic to the wood pine chips they'd lined his cage in, and he didn't get to tell them that they'd better find out who did this and punish them with the pain of a thousand wounds.
Instead he got one trip across the arid desert clasped in Naruto's arms and covered in a loose knit sheet to keep the sun off the cage. Naruto turned out to be a very sweaty ninja, was very bouncy, and kept Gaara in a constant state of near nausea between his body odor and all the jostling.
On top of that, once he was in Konoha and examined by the Hokage, Tsunade had hmm'd and ahh'd thoughtfully before knocking back a shot of sake and ordering Naruto to go on an A ranked mission to retrieve some ingredients she thought she'd need for the reversal jutsu. That caused him to be left with Naruto's pink haired friend.
She'd had the nerve to insult him, he'd bitten her, and now...
Now she was lip singing to Celine Deon while dusting her apartment, dancing around and making Gaara's ears bleed as she tried (unsuccessfully) to hit the high notes. Dear heavens, it was massive retaliation. She was doing this on purpose just to be cruel! He couldn't take it any more. Yes, he'd bitten her and made her bleed! Yes, maybe he'd technically started it. But really, this was going too far. Such horrible actions were outside the normal conduct of acceptable wartime violence.
He was a hamster and he was almost helpless, but he was clever and determined. He would be avenged. If this was how she wanted to play, fine. He could handle cruel and unusual war games. It was on. He would pull out all the stops and make her rue the day she ever brought, "My Heart Will Go On" into this.
The pink haired she demon wouldn't know what hit her.