*Disclaimer* Even though Gaara is so badass, I can't and don't own him. That goes for the rest of Naruto's characters as well.




"Garbage." muttered Gaara hoarsely under his breath. "All garbage." Kankuro didn't seem to hear him, but Temari, the only person who ever really came within 2 feet of Gaara, heard him loud and clear. Her eyes, glistening like blue opals and wracked with nervousness, scanned to where her little brother was looking.

The three of them were in the streets of Kohana, idly and quietly standing by an ally next to a place called Ichiraku's Ramen Shop. People stared every once in a while, but quickly hurried on their way after receiving a murderous death glare from a certain fiery red head.

Gaara was glaring at the busy people in Kohana, shopping, working, talking, kids playing and laughing. It made him almost physically ill, and eager to constrict, to kill. How easily thoughts of homicide came to him. Like breathing. Like blinking. It was a part of his nature. And his nature…was twisted.

Temari picked up on his meaning and unconsciously took a step to the side, almost brushing against Kankuro, who was leaning up against a near-bye fence looking bored. He barely noticed, but mumbled a "watch it" and shifted his position slightly. Temari and Kankuro were always quiet and careful when they were around Gaara, afraid that

any little thing could set him off. To them he was like a walking time bomb, even though they knew that Gaara's personality wasn't as spontaneous than that.

"Three large bowls, please, and with extra pork!" a loud and obnoxious voice called enthusiastically from nearby. It was a spiky haired blond boy with a wide grin and an equally obnoxious orange outfit on. He sat down with an utmost satisfied look after being received with a "Right away, be right back!" Next to him, a petite girl about his age with short raven hair and strange foggy eyes nearly fell off her seat after letting out a high pitched squeak.

Her reaction caught the attention of both Gaara and the blond haired boy. Gaara raised the skin above his right eye where his eyebrow was supposed to be and narrowed his eyes. He had been observing every moving object within his peripherals and yet he had not noticed this girl sitting damn near next to him.

How long has she been there?

On the other side of him his siblings started talking to each other, Kankuro complaining about arriving to the Leaf village too early. Gaara couldn't have cared less. They had traveled far from the Sand Village to partake in the upcoming chunnin exams and now he had plenty of time to scope out the competition. Or rather, the weakest and the strongest of the Kohana heard.

"Oi! Hey, Hinata!" greeted the blond haired kid over enthusiastically.

So the strange eyed girl is called Hinata…?

"N-N-Naruto!" she exclaimed clutching her hand to her chest in an attempt to catch her breath. "H-Hello!"

"Wow! I hadn't even noticed you there! How have you been?" he grinned happily. Hinata turned only slightly to hide a shade of pink on her cheeks and replied "F-Fine. How about you?" She tried to lift her eyes to look at him in an absurdly difficult attempt as she pinched her two forefingers together nervously over her lap.

"Oh, well, y'know." Naruto explained, his voice suddenly down. His eyes turned to the back of the restaurant as if staring would make the food come faster. "That Jerk Sasuke thinks he's so hot." The last of his words were caked in disgust. "As if everything he does is perfect and he's so much better than me at everything. You should see the way he shows off! It really gets on my nerves. I'm tired of that idiot always trying to make me look bad! He does it on purpose I tell ya!" Hinata smiled faintly as she let the blond ramble on. And on. Hinata was a very patient person, and if it was anyone else they'd probably tell him to shut up. Or beat him into silence. Something one of his team mates would do. Especially Sakura.

But Hinata was infatuated with Naruto, almost obsessed (not that she would ever call it that), and she listened to everything he had to say with contented interest. She was just ecstatic that he was talking to her. And alone at his favorite ramen shop! It was almost like a…a…!

Hinata cupped her face in her hands and lowered her head while turning completely around. Gaara had a clear view of her face now, and it was almost thoroughly red. He stared through narrowed slits as he silently observed Hinata. He wasn't aware that a persons face could actually turn colors like that. He had seen it before in his sister's face when she was mad about something or yelling at Kankuro. He had also seen it a few times in the faces of his victims before he crushed them to death. But he had always wrote it off as a physical reaction to fear. Begging for their lives, struggling, pleading, choking, gasping for their last breath…

The thought made him grit his teeth with pleasure. But this girl…she didn't look like she was frightened or angry. And it seemed like she hadn't even noticed he was there. This girl was very strange.

Naruto had continued to ramble while Hinata was almost hyperventilating at the thought of her own imagination. It was only until the waiter placed 3 huge steaming bowls of ramen in front of Naruto's face that all her one-sided awkwardness swiftly dissipated. "There ya go!" the waiter boomed and turned his attention to the customer that had just arrived at the far left of the shop.

Naruto inhaled the hot steam radiating off of the noodles and grinned like an idiot, all negative thoughts and emotions fleeing his face as he yelled his thanks and began slurping his food down immediately.

That, however, didn't stop him from talking. Hinata glanced at her empty bowl that had been sitting there almost 5 minutes before Naruto arrived and decided that she wouldn't order another one. She would just listen to him talk.

Incidentally, a glimpse of red caught her attention and she turned to her right. There was a boy standing a few feet away form her, arms crossed and eyes boring straight into her face. His hair was the color of blood and he had an impossibly large gourd strapped to his back. His figure was turned straight ahead of him but he stared at her from the side, his eyes dangerously homicidal. Hinata's eyes went wide, her entire body recoiled by itself and a small gasp escaped her lips. Had he been staring at her the whole time? The thought shook her spine.

A silent snort escaped his nostrils as his lips pulled up to reveal a devilishly murderous grin, obviously amused at her reaction. Hinata's head turned reflexively to the side to look at Naruto who was apparently still talking to her with his mouth full, chewing in between loud slurps. It seems he hadn't even noticed her reaction to Gaara's presence. He could be so oblivious.

Which is why he had not noticed his two team mates walking down the street behind them. Sakura, a bright girl from the academy with bubble gum colored hair was chatting to Sasuke, a spiky raven haired stoic avenger who walked in front of her looking bored and uninterested like always. Sakura didn't seem to mind as she continued to prattle on happily. It was only until she noticed Naruto that she was pulled out of her one sided conversation and stopped walking. Her hand absentmindedly grabbed the back of Sasuke's shirt to stop him from walking as she pointed and shouted in Hinata's direction.

"There he is!" she exclaimed with an annoyed look on her face. Sasuke turned to see Naruto the same time he seemed to turn around to catch sight of them. "Oh!" he started to talk but choked on the ramen that was still hanging from his mouth. He quickly slurped it up and wiped the juice from his mouth with his sleeve and smiled at them. Hinata noticed it was a smile directed only at Sakura.

"Sakuraaa!" He greeted, waving energetically toward them. "You were looking for me?" his teeth gleamed as he grinned to himself, a slight shade of pink forming on his cheeks.

Hinata frowned. Disappointment gripped at her chest along with despair and a flash of loneliness. Love was a complicated and irrational thing. And strong…and more likely to backfire than not.

A similar look seemed to cross Sakura's face as Sasuke brushed off her hand of his shirt almost as naturally as she had grabbed onto it. She tip toed behind him as he stalked over to Naruto with a bothered expression on his face. " Idiot." he muttered under his breath. Naruto's happy grin turned defensive as Sasuke approached him.

"Hey, Stupid. Are you aware that we had a meeting today with Kakkashi? He sent us out to look for you this morning. I should have known you'd be here pigging your way through all the shop's food." Naruto's fists slammed down on the table rattling the empty bowls around him and drawing the attention of the shop's clients. Even Temari and Kankuro were pulled from their conversation, which had over time become idle chit chat.

Gaara stared silently at the group surrounding the ramen shop with little interest. He observed that they were all ninjas of Kohana by the looks of their headbands. Gaara scoffed inwardly. As if children such as these could be ninja. The only one who looked close to being a ninja was the black haired stoic boy with a scowl on his face.

The blond one bickered loudly at the black-haired ninja. The pink-haired girl (and it was his first time seeing pink hair on anybody ever) shouted and scolded the loud blond boy who, after a few seconds of some pathetic insults and useless quarreling, wound up being dragged away by the two of them.

"Hey!" shouted the waiter of the ramen shop. The idiot blond had forgotten to pay his bill. "U-um! It's okay!" called Hinata frantically trying to catch his attention. "I can pay for everything. For mine too." Generous. Very. Gaara just would have killed the blond ninja and the shop owner.

Hinata pulled a shiny blue wallet from her overly baggy jacket and grabbed the amount she saw on the two bills the waiter placed in front of her. She gave it to him and he gave his thanks as he cheerily took the four empty bowls and carried them to the back. After putting the wallet back in her jacket she hopped off her seat and hurried away.

Gaara stared ahead of him, apparently uninterested in her hurry to get away, but a satisfied feeling built up in his chest as he noticed that not once had the fear he'd inflicted upon her been diluted the whole time he was standing there.