A/N: Something that jumped into my head and refused to leave. I hope you enjoy.
Summary: Shukaku had broken free, and Matsuri happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gaara could be dead or alive, locked inside his own mind as strength and heart are tested on a battlefield of wits and cunning malice. Rated for language.
You Belong To Me
Screaming. Screaming. Screaming. Clawing, scratching, yelling, crying, throbbing, pounding. Everything was blurry, hectic, out of order and so goddamn confusing. Tears streamed down her face and her nails scratched at her face, etching blood red lines, oozing a crimson liquid in tiny rivulets down her marred skin. Screams ripped from her throat as she writhed on the floor in pain and anguish, twisting and coiling deep within her, only to spring open and slash at her over and over.
What was this? What was happening?
"Don't scream anymore, love."
A warm hand wrapped around her throat, lifting her from the ground, her feet dangling in the air as her hands scratched and pushed at the appendage. No. She couldn't breathe, she couldn't see anything but red. Make it stop, make it go away. The screams become nothing but choked cries as her air began closing off slowly. Her throat throbbed, her heart pounded. Blooded pulsed behind her ears, nothing was clear besides the roaring in her head. Why?
"You belong to me."
Oh God, what was happening?! Her world tilted and spun, thrashing and whipping at her in painful, horrible ways. Her body was flung through the air carelessly, like a papper doll, before crashing into a wall off to the side. She screamed as an audible crack rang in her ears and her wrist throbbed.
Footsteps began coming near her, and she cowered into the wall, wanting to disappear, cease to exist, run away from him. White hot pain scorched through her from her broken wrist as she cradeled it to her chest as he knelt down next to her. She tried in vain to blink away the fog and mist covering her eyes, wanting to see clearly in case she needed to at least attempt to protect herself from him.
Her body pressed against the wall away from him, away from the body heat radiating from him like some kind of live animal. The heat licked at her skin, caressing her in an almost docile way except that it was burning her so badly. "Puh-please," she whispered in a broken, terrified voice. "Please, don't do this."
She was shaking, trembling from pain and fear. "I'm not doing this to you, Matsuri." He answered, and she shook worse at his tone. Or rather, lack of tone. There was no inflection, no emotion, like he was simply stating the color of the sky. It frightened her.
His hand settled down on her shoulder and would have seemed gentle if not for the death grip he had on her as he pushed her into the ground. She yelped at the pain as his strength had it feeling like he was ripping her arm from her body. She cringed away from him as he leaned his face toward hers.
"Don't you understand? You brought this upon yourself, I warned you to stay away from my host, but you didn't listen, did you? You never listen, you pathetic excuse of a human." The words were spat at her, filled with venom and hate, and such an overbearing feeling of rage.
Matsuri's eyes rolled helplessly to gaze at the man pushing her into the ground, blinking past the blood and sweat in her eyes. She could so clearly see the red hair she had come to adore, the face she had come to love, and the body of a man she would so easily die for. But this wasn't him. No. This was not the man that she had seen protect so many. Die for the village. This was someone else entirely, and it scared her that he was here. How was it possible?
Gold irises glared down at her, gold settled in a deep sea of unforgiving black. Shocks of blue withen their depths glinted and made the sight all the more menacing and deadly. This shouldn't be happening.
"N-No...you're.....you were dead..." she said breathlessly, her voice quiet and terrified and full of pain as her wrist continued to throb. His fingers gently caressed her neck, and she flinched, but dared not move away.
"No, stupid girl. I was never dead." His voice was soft, and caring as his fingers continued to gently trace against her throat.
Her heart stuttered with fear.
His fingers wrapped loosely around her throat and she stopped breathing. Her wild eyes cut up to him and found them shining with power and excitement. "Foolish. You are all so foolish."
As the words left his lips, his fingers flexed around her throat, choking a muffled, Mgh!, from her. Her uninjured hand immediatly rose and clutched uselessly around his arms as she began to struggle. His grip tightened and Matsuri saw black spots dance before her eyes.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," he growled.
His gold eyes flashed angrily down at her and she stared back up at him helplessly.
What had happened? Why was Gaara not here? Why was he here, giving the image of the Kazekage, while in fact, he was a monster in the man's skin. This demon, this slithering, coniving, miniscule of a being was here instead of Gaara.
"Tell me," he said quietly, his voice smooth and dangerous, a gentle tone secretly coated in poison. "Why did you not heed my warnings? You must have had some idea."
His gaze was curious, burning lethally and sparkleing with rage, but he was genuinlly wanting to know. Matsuri's eyes rolled back into her head, the whites of her eyes flashing up at him as the lack of air choked her severly.
"What is that!?"
"How can that be nothing, you're covered in blood!"
"I said it's nothing."
She flinched back away from him, his cold voice, his hard gaze. The slightest spark of gold in his usual pale eyes startling her into silence.
"Gaara - "
The rage, the all consuming hate that swirled around him like a dark cloud the past month. Why didn't she notice it sooner? Maybe she could have helped him, saved him from this. Saved them all from this monster that was slowly killing her.
Would Gaara be alright?
Her body began shaking, the world becoming nonexistant around her, her body going numb. All that was felt was the hateful hand wrapped tightly around her throat.
"Did you do this?"
"Then what did?"
"I don't know."
The scratches, the jagged claw marks lining his desk. Why was he lying to her? Blood seeped into the grooves of the slashes, making it a more gruesome picture than it already was. It appeared as if someone had been murdered there, lying helplessly on his desk. She shuddered at the thought.
How could she have missed all the signs? They were always right there. Always. But she had chose to ignore them.
He was talking to someone, she was sure of it. His muffled voice was carried so easily to her. The words were unclear, but just the sound of his voice was clear to her. He sounded angry. Frustrated, annoyed, and the faintest hint of fear laced his tone.
Her dark eyes traced his profile, tensed and stiff, as if expecting a blow. Expecting something to come at him. Why would he never tell her what was wrong? Perhaps she could help him.
It was then that something about him changed. Maybe it was the air around him, the sounds surrounding him. Whatever it was, something had shifted. He looked completely menacing standing out in the open desert. The sand seemed to dance and whip around him in the wind, cutting at nothing and everything as it sliced in tendrils next to his body. Licking and bowing before him, to the master of the sands.
It scared her, terrified her. His eyes bleeding a different color before turning back again so quick she was positive it was just a trick of the sun, her imagination. What was happening? Her stomach rolled in fear as she watched him. It was almost too easy to picture him with spinly wings, sharpened teeth and claws, ripping and tearing through people and making it rain blood.
Her body heaved, making her double over from the sudden onslaught as the image in her head became more vivid. It was so clear, the blood and gore. Gaara slicing open bodies, ripping out hearts and intestines, cutting open throats and relishing in the pools of blood he created. Blood all over the sand, mutilating the once beautiful color and staining it the darkest of blacks.
Sin pouring over the innocent sands.
Her stomach emptied itself, choking her in the process and burning her lungs and throat. When she was finished, she took a few deep breaths and rose to find him again. Only he wasn't there. He was no where in sight. The sand had stopped the intimdating dance and was now lying flat on the surface again.
It was like he was never there in the first place.
A muffled curse reached her cotton filled ears as she was violently ripped from the ground and into the air. Her head lolled to the side and the hand that was perviously choking the life out of her released its' grip. Her lungs immediatly sucked in the air greedily. She was lowered to the ground, but her knees struggled to hold her up as she felt a hand clutch the front of her vest and jerk her upright. She wanted to step away from him, knowing that as soon as she was clear headed, or even before that, he would do it over again.
Either way, she was going to die.
A loud smack echoed around her, jerking her head to the side with the force behind the attack and leaving her stunned. Her cheek stung and she could feel it burning red from the slap that had been delievered to her face. Her black eyes blinked slowly as her lungs began breathing harder and faster, seemingly adoring the delicious air.
"Pathetic," He spat. "how he can stand being around weak things like you, I will never understand."
"Where's....Gaara." She finally managed to pant out, not worrying about if he killed her now, she just wanted to know that Gaara was okay. He needed to be okay.
Her eyes shakily held his gaze as a slow, malicous grin spread over his lips. Gaara's lips. Fear pulsed through her at the smile, bile rising in her throat as pins and needles stabbed at her abused cheek. A voice whispered somewhere in the back of her head in a sickly sweet voice, He's dead. Shukaku has killed him. Matsuri stopped breathing. And now he's going to kill you, too.
"He was ignorant," Was his only reply.
As the comment left his lips, Matsuri insides screamed in pain, fear, and anger. Why was he doing this? He should be dead! Dead!
Her body acted on impulse, launching herself at him in an instant of pure hate and adrenaline. Blood pounded in her ears like a constant sounding of a dread filled drum as her hands slashed at his face, her body crashing against his in an attempt to knock him off balance.
A savage snarl vibrated through his body and turned her blood cold at the noise. His hands yanked at her arms, pinning them at her sides as his head swung around to face her after having partially dodged her slashing hands. Three jagged lines of blood marred his once flawless face, and her eyes gazed at the scars, mezmerized at what she had done.
A furious storm raged within his golden eyes, hate and repulsion burning so clearly in his piercing gaze. Matsuri tensed, expecting a blow, a fatal hit, some form of abuse. She had wanted to hurt him for hurting Gaara, and she had. Maybe she couldn't save Gaara, she was too weak she knew, but she could at least do small damage to the demon who had caused him pain.
Three scratches were hardly worth a bit a pride to feel, but just knowing that she had caused him just a bit of the physical pain he was causing her made her want to smile in triumph. Her eyes glared heatedly up at him, hating the very air he breathed as the lines dripped blood onto his black clothes.
"He hates me touching what he thinks belongs to him," Shukaku said quietly, his eyes burning into the woman trapped in his arms. Her eyes widened in confusion and fear. "He hates my very existance with my hands on you."
Matsuri didn't know what to think, didn't have a clue as to what to feel or do. He was speaking as if Gaara was still alive, still there inside of him. If that were true, then....
"Gaara! Gaara, please!! Help me, Gaara!!"
Shame burned within her at calling out the man she loved to help her. And she had always thought she made a decent kunoichi, that she could make him proud with her strength. That was not true anymore. Was it ever? Then again, it wasn't completely definate that Gaara was still thriving inside his body. Shukaku could have easily erased his existance. Matsuri struggled futilely in his grasp, wanting to get away from the pain.
Shukaku laughed outright at her, and despite the situation, humiliation stung her and turned her cheeks red. His eyes glittered with cruel humour and he roughly pushed her against the wall at her back, her head jerked back and whacked the plaster, dragging a cry from her soar throat.
"Do you think that will help anything? Begging him?" He chuckled deeply. "Pathetic little Matsuri, he can't hear y--"
All at once Shukaku snarled dangerously, his features twisting into an expression of pain as his eyes clamped shut. Matsuri stared up at him wide-eyed, scared at what was happening and wanting to run and get help, but ultimatly too afraid of what he would do if she attempted. His fingers dug painfully into her flesh, and she cried out. He in turn yelled angrily and whipped his head to the side as if trying to shake something off.
Matsuri sprung at the chance to escape as his attention turned soley upon himself, and wrenched herself from his bruising hands. Her wild eyes darted around her, crashing upon every object in view as she desperatly searched for a means of escape. She heard the man behind her stagger and cursing darkly under his breath. Sprinting across the room, her eyes landed on the doorway that she must have been dragged through in the beginning.
In mere moments her hands were latched onto the knob, jerking and thrashing at the contraption to allow her exit. It was jammed. In sheer desperation she kicked and pounded on the door, enforcing chakra behind her ministrations even though a hoarse voice at the base of her skull told her it was useless. It would never be that easy to escape. This was Shukaku, not a lowly genin.
This was a demon.
As the acknowledgment of her predicament set in, Matsuri thumped the door one last time with her sore fist pathetically, a dry sob coming from her cracked lips.
In the instant the sound of distress came from her person, two lean, powerful hands slammed into the door and a body pressed threateningly against her back. In any other situation it would have been seen as a lover's possesive hold, but Matsuri could so easily feel the murderous intentions sliding off his skin, the venom leaking and wrapping around her from his deathly, intense eyes burning into the back of her head. The sheer power radiating from every pore in his body had her trembling and pressing herself more fully against the barrier in front of her.
"Don't--do--that--again." he snarled, biting his words off as if they were leaving a repulsing taste within his mouth. "He's dead."
Matsuri's breathing became ragged. The lie in his words, the forcefullness of the syllables, was so effident it had her heart beating wildly in her chest. He said it as if he was attempting to scare her into believing it, like he was covering up the false tale behind his statements. Her heart soared as relief flooded her body, making her knees quake as she struggled to stand. Gaara was alive.
And he was fighting to regain the lost control over his mind and body.
She didn't know how long it would take, she didn't know how strong the cage holding Gaara was, but she did know that she would keep Shukaku at bay until that point. Until Gaara could take over once more.
With her waning strength -- ever leaking from her limbs -- Matsuri slammed her back into Shukaku's chest and struggled to catch her footing as the demon stumbled backwards from the attack. Quickly, she pivoted on her foot and threw her weight into a powerful punch aimed at the man's jaw. Already knocked off balance, his body was dragged to the hard ground by gravity.
Matsuri stood, her shoulders heaving from her labored breathes, eyes narrowed dangerously and her arm still extended from the punch while her injured wrist hovered over her abdomen a few feet from the demon. Her limbs shook and the muscles burned in her calves and arms.
Shukaku rose slowly to a crouch on the floor, and Matsuri immediatly shook off the fatigue biting at her body. Taking a step back, she fell into the fighting stance she had adopted from her days of taijutsu training in her genin stage.
Shukaku's eyes flashed red for a fraction of a second, and Matsuri flinched. When she inspected his eyes closely once more they remained soldily the golden color she had grown to despise. A menacing smile curved his thin lips as his hands flexed themselves on the ground, his legs tensed and taught underneath him.
"You believe you can fight me off?" he asked quietly, sweet poison lacing his words. "How......"
In a matter of a nano-second the demon had bounded from his crouched state and was leaning over her hatefully. "--pathetic." he whispered.
Matsuri had barely enough time to draw in a quick gasp of air before she felt Shukaku wrench her shirt collar, jerking her up against his stiffened form, and flinging her harshly away from him. Her back connected with a dilapadated empty bookshelf shoved into the corner and she crumpled to the floor on her knees. Coughs wracked her form as the air had been knocked out of her from the impact. Her injured wrist wrapped around her stomach as her other hand layed flat on the surface of the floor, holding her trembling body up.
A barking laugh had her struggling to look up, one eye squinted shut from the pain shooting through her body. Shukaku was glaring at her, his mouth twisted in a cruel, taunting smile. He walked toward her with confident strides, reaching her faster than she wanted. She flinched back, hacking slightly as he leaned down to her level.
"Want to try being brave again, Matty? Come on, be the hero." he taunted, his golden eyes dancing in cold humour.
Anger boiled just under the surface, and she wanted nothing more than to wipe that smile from his face. She could clearly imagine her fist impaling his framed features once more, and satisfaction welled in her chest, but then dropped to her ankles coldly as she realized she wouldn't be able to do anything. She was lucky to even be awake at that moment.
He tutted at her mockingly. "How sad, you can't even put up a decent fight. And here I had been convinced this boy had taught you something useful."
Matsuri winced at the insult directed not only at her, but at Gaara himself, too. Shukaku had no respect for the Kazekage, and Matsuri found herself taking it personally.
Matsuri grimaced, and glared up at the beautiful face in front of her. "He was always stronger than you," she said in a broken, tired voice. Though the strength behind the words were not lost upon the demon. His smile disappeared and he stared coldly down at her. "He had more honor--"
"Shut-up." he cut in, eyes blazing with hate and annoyance. Her heart beat faster in her chest, and her mouth refused to stay quiet, gaining strength as she yelled up at him.
"--more courage than you could ever hope to acheive!!"
"I said shut-up, you stupid bitch!"
This time, his fist whipped out and clipped her harshly on her jaw. The power behind the attack had her crumpling to the ground, a whimper of pain whispering past her lips. She knew she was almost done for, her body could only hold out for so long. But...Gaara....
A vicious snarling caught her attention, and Matsuri swiveled painfully to peer over her shoulder. Shukaku was standing in the middle of the room, clutching at his head as if he was great pain from the inside. His body jerked and spasmed and he stumbled backwards, crashing into the door with a loud BANG. Matsuri tried to crawl closer to the wall, but her body gave out and she slumped to the floor.
She could taste the coppery flavor of blood and she spit crimson onto the floorboards, staining them with red splotches. Her eyes blinked slowly, trying to focus on something, but failing as they rolled unbiddingly around the room.
Her mind fogged and her breathing turned shallow. Though she could still hear Shukaku's biting growls and curses, strings of threats being spit out as fast as he could manage, her ears felt like they were stuffed with cotton. She knew what he was saying, but then again, she didn't. His words ceased to be words and became noise. White noise.
His voice faded slightly, but somewhere the fog of her mind, Matsuri knew what was happening. And it elated her to no end. Gaara was fighting for control, and he was winning. Shukaku wouldn't be able to keep him at bay for long, his time was up. Gaara would break free and beat the demon back with a force that would leave him dazed and jarred, locked up in a cage inside Gaara's head, never to be reopened. Never to be left unnoticed, for that would mean another relapse.
She smiled, despite the sheer exhaustion and lack of clear headedness grappling at her conciousness. Blood smeared on her mouth, making it a painful smile, but one nontheless.
It was then that a cry of pure rage shattered through her head and had her unfocused eyes snapping open in an attempt to right her senses. Hands snatched at her body and drug her to the middle of the room.
"YOU FUCKING BITCH! I'LL KILL YOU!!"
Once more raw panic surged through her body and she struggled feebly, over all to weak to do more than whimper as his hands shoved her shoulders into the floor and his lean body straddle her stomach, holding her down.
His knees pinned her hands at her sides, and her eyes rolled around, catching sight of his hands in front of her face through the bleary film covering her vision. Hand signs. He was perfoming a jutsu.
She had time enough to breathe in sharply before his hands became a blur, and he muttered a phrase to low and quick for her ears. The next instant, his palm was pressed to her forehead and she felt herself being dragged alarmingly quick into the darkness, she didn't even have time scream.
The worst feeling in the world rushed through as she fell, the feeling of having dark chakra poor through her body, mixing with her own healthy shade of blue. She could clearly see it, though she was not awake and her eyes were closed. She was in her own mind, and Matsuri had never felt more afraid or repulsed.
It was a monster, the dark chakra, attacking her power and overpowering it easily, infesting her with its poison and repulsive feeling. It was sliding over her, mocking her, and easily trapping her. She couldn't fight back. Mixing with her blue chakra, the dark power bled into her veins and manifested itself into a thick, deep purple color.
It seemed to laugh at her as she helplessly watched as she was overcome with the monster mutation. It grew and grew, spreading through her and becoming part of her.
It was her.
"Matsuri. Matsuri, Matsuri."
Her eyes fluttered open and stared wide-eyed up at clear, jade orbs outlined in dark bruises. Red locks fell in a messy dissary around a well defined face, one side of his hair flat and damp with sweat as if the young man had been laying on that side for quite a while. His brow was slightly furrowed, his lips tilted down at the corners vaguely, both aspects were hardly noticable unless you were up close to him and looking for the change.
His shoulders were tense, arms supporting her wieght as he held her torso up from the ground. Slowly feeling crept back into her body, and her legs -stretched out in front of her- felt like lead, as well as her arms. She blinked slowly, but forced her hand to come up and allow her fingers to touch the side of Gaara's face.
His eyes flickered to her hand at the movement, but didn't pull away at her touch, instead, he leaned into it and his eyes lost the sharp look of intensity and alram they held only moments ago. His brow relaxed, and he breathed easier, knowing now that she wasn't in danger of dying.
"...He's gone..." he said quietly, and she nodded, knowing that in his own way he was apologizing.
Both of them knew, though, that he wasn't truly gone. He was locked away more carefully now, but he would never be gone. He was as much a part of Gaara as Gaara was a part of him.
Matsuri sighed with relief, and her hand spread flat on his skin. "It's over..."
He nodded, and though she knew she should feel some relief, an itch poked at the base of her skull. Her brow knitted together, and her body became stiff. Gaara froze as he watched emotions flick over her features, confusion, shock and then horror. His blood ran cold.
Matsuri stared blankly up at him as an echoing laugh bounced around her skull. Cackling with glee so familiar and vile as it taunted her being. Matsuri's jaw dropped open in a silent scream as a silky voice whispered mockingly in head,
"You belong to me."