"…which is why you the both of you will be thanking me later."
"Huh, whaa?" Naruto sat up not knowing where he was, which was starting to become more common than actually knowing where he was.
"Ah. It seems my estimation of when you'd wake up here was off. You've missed most of the important bits."
Naruto had been doing this back and forth long enough to know when to just sit back and listen. "Can you just tell me what you did, and why I'm here please?"
Kyuubi was almost shocked that Naruto was being almost civil with him, but he supposed the boy's mental exhaustion had finally caught up with his physical. That, and with neither of them keen to die, they needed to be able to work together.
"Long story short. Your body's now good to go because I shoved the excess chakra caught up in your organs into Gaara. Cleared up your system right quick, and with my regeneration having several hours to work on you, your chakra coils should be stronger than before."
"Sounds…good. But how come you know Gaara's name? You didn't even bother to learn Neji's or Sasuke's!"
"He's Shukaku's boy, of course I have to know his name. We Bijuu have standards. Rules to abide by."
"I'm sure, but the only rule I ever bothered to remember was the third: Have a plan to kill everyone you meet."
"And I adhere to it…religiously."
"Whatever you stupid fox! You haven't killed anyone in years and I'm gonna keep it that way."
The demon rushed forward, its nose bowling into the boy's stomach, sending him skidding across the ground.
"You DARE pretend to have control over me? Let me have one more instant, one more solitary second with that fool teacher of yours and I will SHOW you…"
The malicious atmosphere surrounding the beast suddenly evaporated. It's anger was replaced by an almost bored expression.
It's sad I've been here so long that I'm responding in full to the taunts of a short teenage boy. Kyuubi thought. I've got to have him trusting me, not afraid of me for my plans to come to fruition.
"Forget about that." The fox spoke up once more. "Awaken, and focus on dealing with my chakra in more ways, especially those outside your body. Arrange a meeting with Gaara to practice with each of your chakras. You can help him gain control. Once you have done that, return to me."
With a look, Naruto felt himself being lifted from his mind, and he didn't resist.
Temari was worried. After Gaara not returning from the sandstorm, she and Kankuro went out to look for him. Gaara had yet to gain many friends in the time since the chuunin exam, but many of the high ranking ninja were slowly becoming less afraid with him.
It hadn't been hard to find the area where Gaara had been, but it took a long time to find them in the sand dunes. Temari was lucky enough to come across them first, but she nearly died from panic when she noticed Gaara was asleep. She controlled herself however, and was surprised to find that blond Konoha boy lying near Gaara.
"Kankuro, is that really that kid?"
"…It looks like him." Kankuro finally said. "Do you think he fought Gaara? They look pretty beat up."
"But why is Gaara asleep?" At this point they were still taking no chances and were several feet away from the bodies of both of the boys. "More importantly, why is Gaara asleep and why aren't we dead?"
"Genjutsu maybe? But I've already tried canceling -"
At this point Naruto sat straight up with a loud yawn.
Temari whipped her fan around out of pure frightened instinct and sent a tornado of wind at the two boys.
Naruto looked at the incoming whirlwind in a daze, and was saved from further pain when a wall of sand coalesced in front of him. Gaara was awake once more.
Gaara didn't bother raising himself off the ground, only holding a hand out to create the wall. He dropped it and noticed the startled faces of his siblings.
"…Temari, Kankuro." His hand drifted to point toward his blond friend. "Naruto. Naruto" The hand drifted back to point toward his siblings "Temari and Kankuro. I'm going back to sleep."
He did just that.
Kankuro was amazed. "I'm seeing it Temari, but I don't believe it."
Temari however, was more focused on the conscious ninja in front of them.
"Care to explain what's going on…Naruto?"
"Well… you see…" Naruto began.
I've got no idea what's going on! Kyuubi help! Naruto thought.
"Surely. Shift control to me and the execution will be swift and elegant."
…Execution? Naruto thought.
"Yes…*cough* the execution of my explanation."
Yeah, on second thought, I think I've got this. Naruto finished.
"I've got absolutely no idea what's going on!" Naruto said brightly. "But uh…nice to see you guys again? Never took Gaara to be a heavy sleeper. Except, you know, that one time, but that was some kind of sleep genjutsu and… HEY!"
Naruto looked incredulously at Gaara. "He can do genjutsu! He's got to have lots of chakra like me because of Shukaku, but he can still do genjutsu! He's gotta teach me how to do that."
"…What's up with you kid?" Kankuro said concerning Naruto's rambling. The blone boy looked straight at him.
"I just got into a fight with a sand dragon which I'm pretty sure wasn't supposed to exist, and had to let this other guy fall to his death to save myself…and I dunno, I guess I'm just going to try to ignore all that for now. Can we head over to your village? I've got to talk to Gaara once he wakes up. Jinchuuku stuff, you know."
They both looked at the boy with surprised eyes. "You're a…which biju?"
"Oh, the Ky–"
"Naruto. Just this once. Just this ONCE!"
Fine. Naruto thought. He felt the Kyuubi's influence rush up, and he stepped aside for it.
Temari and Kankuro watched as the boy stopped talked mid sentence, then bowed his head. A harsh, screeching wind billowed out from the boy, turning hot just as a dark and menacing laugh shook the shoulder's of the blond boy's body. Red chakra joined the wind as 'Naruto' raised his head, rising from the ground with fangs clenched into a wide grin, and eyes burning with red power behind them. The boy locked gazes with them, and spoke.
"Pleasure to meet you. Call me Kyuubi no Kitsune. The greatest of all foxes, the earth shaker, the king of demons, the –"
The harsh atmosphere left abruptly as Kyuubi was shut back in his cage once more. Naruto smiled with his own softer grin and laid a hand behind his head.
"Sorry about that. He gets really long winded if I let him."
"Uh, that's… that's okay." Temari said. She was actually used to feeling much darker things from Gaara. The presence had been oppressive…but it was like it was trying hard to be. Just that, no feelings of hatred or want to murder. "You can control it?"
"Well…not exactly. I mean, he doesn't really affect me as much as Gaara's does, so it's like he's not there most of the time."
"I'll buy that. Let's finish this conversation somewhere more comfortable." Kankuro offered.
They picked up the red haired boy between them, and began walking off to their village.
"Hey, come to think of it, has anyone seen Gaara's gourd?"
It had been almost twilight by the time the siblings and Naruto came back into the village. Naruto had reluctantly pocketed his headband on Temari's request, and a short conversation from her had the guards allowing Naruto inside. They, and everyone else they passed, were shocked to see Gaara asleep – most thought him dead at first glance and immediately searched the skies and noticed a distinct lack of raging Bijuu. Temari's story was that Gaara was gaining control over his beast and its murderous tendencies. Most were skeptical, but other's rejoiced.
Finding Naruto a bed was easy, since the siblings still lived in a win of the Kazekage's mansion. They all opted to move bed into a single room, so they would all be there when Gaara awoke once more – and as a precaution, since none of them really knew what was going on with him at all.
Gaara slept on unaware of it all, even as the remnants of Kyuubi's chakra in his system melded with and augmented his own personal store of chakra. While Gaara had never bothered to deal with elemental chakra or techniques before, the latent wind natured chakra within him from both his heritage as a Suna ninja and the bijuu within him, along with the addition of Kyuubi's chakra mixed with Naruto's began sparking his wind affinity in full force.
It was this moment that would change the name whispered by his enemies from Gaara of the Desert, to Gaara of the Sandstorm. But for now he slept a wonderful sleep, truly recuperating his physical and spiritual energies for the first time in a long time.
Gaara woke up with a jerk, used to having his awakening coincide with scenes of horrible carnage, before he realized where he was. Not in his regular room, but one of the ones in another part of the house. He quickly noted the other people in the room, and spent some time sitting up in a daze, looking over them. He didn't know how to feel, waking up. No screams for blood in his head, or heavy sand armor caking his body. His gourd wasn't in the room, and that was when Gaara realized it had likely dissolved.
He looked at his hands and tested his chakra, and he could tell that things were off. That wasn't good. Though he might have turned over a new leaf, Gaara knew he still had several enemies. Being uncertain of his powers for any stretch of time was unacceptable. If people realized the 'fearsome' Jinchuuriki was helpless –
"Oh, you're awake. Morning Gaara." Naruto interrupted the red-haired boy's thoughts from across the room.
"Naruto…" This was actually perfect. He could test himself without holding back. "I think I need to fight you."
It was some time before either of them was awake enough to even entertain the thought of sparring against each other; though if a battle between two jinchuuriki could ever be called that was up to interpretation. Temari wasn't sold on the idea, but for once she could actually see how uncomfortable and concerned Gaara was over his predicament. He wore his emotions outside just like Naruto, but that had never been a problem before…but then again, his emotions before had been limited to hate and more hate. Once it was decided, then set to spar an hour after breakfast. Kankurou dealt with Naruto while Gaara took Temari aside, asking her to write down and help him with something. Before long, it was time.
Gaara stood before Naruto without his gourd. He wasn't keen on having to travel back to where the sand dragon had been to find his most malleable sand, and he still needed to test what e could do with the more mundane sand around them. In his hands he clasped a paper written over with directions from Temari.
He put the paper away as Naruto walked onto their designated battlefield, on the outskirts of the village.
"Let's make this a two stage fight Naruto." Gaara smiled. Having Shukaku out of his head and nearly a day of sleep made him feel wondrous. Incredibly drowsy as well, but he was used to staving that off. That and he found he had his own personal excitement for battle. He felt a buzz like never before. He could feel that his own stores of chakra had increased, and he could guess that Shukaku's had as well.
Is this what everyone else feels like after sleeping? So…rejuvenated? So…Good? Gaara thought.
"We start with just us, no biju. They'll come in later…" Gaara trailed off, looking like he was struggling with something.
"They'll come in later…." Naruto repeated.
"After…you lose?" Gaara said, looking slightly embarrassed.
There was silence between the four of them.
"Did…did you just trash talk me?" Naruto said.
"No? Yes…I think so."
Kankuro looked away. I've failed as a brother, he thought, if that's the best Gaara's got.
"Well you're on!" Shadow clones exploded into existence around Naruto as he charged forward.
Sand burst from the ground and circled around Gaara. For a second, he had been worried it wouldn't obey him, but he was amazed at how easily it burst forth. Still, he could tell he was using far more chakra than necessary. His control was off.
The clones took positions around Gaara, making their way past his swirling sand. Gaara made no movement as one charged him headlong with a fist raised, crashing into his shield of sand… except that it didn't.
No sand rose of its own accord to block Gaara's attack. The clone stumbled overextended, not expecting to have met no resistance, but Gaara's own shock left him unable to retaliate.
…You said no bijuu, didn't you? Shukaku's familiar voice drawled from inside his head. That means no shield.
Of course, Kyuubi hadn't bothered to pull back Naruto's healing, but no one had ever accused him of being a fair fighter.
The information worried Gaara deeply, but at least he knew his shield wasn't lost forever. Knowing that Shukau had pulled back his sand powers did blossom one wonderful thought within Gaara's head, however.
"I thought it was his…" Gaara whispered.
"What?" Naruto said, concentrating on forming a Rasengan with one of his other clones, as the rest stood at attention to distract Gaara.
"It's not his…" Gaara gave short laughs from happiness "My sand powers, they're not all his!"
Gaara looked straight at Naruto, a full blown grin on his face. It chilled Naruto more than he thought it would.
"This is MY power!" Sand exploded into motion at Gaara's call, one of Naruto's clone's peed it's pants, and the battle commenced in full force.
AN: Please Review. Tell me what you liked/didn't like and/or compare it to what you've liked/didn't like about other chapters. What about the chapter length? Would you want it longer? Or shorter like they've been before? Did anything need to be explained more?