So, the last chapter was a little rough, but it got me through the beginning introduction thing. We now know Gaara, Naruto, Chiyo and about the collar. Now that that's out of the way, let this fic begin! LOOK AT THE END! IT'S IMPORTANT! I REPLY TO SOME REVIEWS!

Chapter 5

"You ate all my freaking strawberries!"

Naruto blinked, holding the empty carton, turning it upside down as if fruit would magically appear when it was righted. Unsurprisingly, none did.

Gaara ignored him, continuing to sit on the couch, his back turned to him, staring out the window. It was still dark, a few stars visible through the city lights. It was such a contrast to his realm. There the sky was dark, each star showing up like a shining bead against dark velvet. He'd always been somewhat fascinated by the stars; They were one of the few things that interested him.

So it would only figure that he'd be trapped in a place where their lights were diminished.

But still, they made a nice distraction from the annoying blonde shaking his flimsy, plastic, box and complaining about strawberries. As if there weren't bigger issues to worry about. Like the fact that he was a cat, stuck on this godforsaken planet. Or the fact that he was wearing some collar, like a common pet. A collar that seemed to keep him from leaving, or hurting the idiot in the kitchen, oh, and whatever else seemed to piss the thing off.

Not to mention the strange control the blonde had over him.

He was trapped, owned, and at the mercy of a mortal. In short: Screwed.

"Hey! Cut that out!"

With his most menacing glare, he turned his attention to the angry blonde. There were a few moments of silence, in which Naruto waited to see if he was going to respond, and in which he was sadly disappointed. There was no infliction on the boy's face, just a flat, annoyed, look of pure loathing.

"I don't like being ignored", the blonde muttered lamely, at last, his steam all dissipated into the air. The red head didn't reply, and so, sighing, Naruto just continued to talk, throwing the empty strawberry carton at the trash can. It missed spectacularly, landing a good three feet away. Surprisingly, neither boy cared.

"Look", Naruto began slowly, approaching the cat-boy warily. "The strawberries aren't that big a deal, just-" He wiped a hand over his face. "We've got other things to deal with right now. Um...lets see..."

Gaara was still sitting on the couch, leaning against the arm of it, and so Naruto walked around to the other end. The strange boy's green eyes were glued to him the entire time, watching his every movement, as if prepared to flee if he were to move to quickly, make too sharp a turn. And so he moved slowly, until he too was on the couch, mirroring Gaara's position against the opposite arm.

They were silent a few more moments, just staring at each other warily. It was the first time they'd ever really had the opportunity to do so.

Naruto looked the creature over critically. Sitting there in the dark, glowering at him, illuminated solely in moonlight, he seemed like something unnatural, something ethereal. He was a mix of pale and bright, his skin eerily white, his hair shockingly red. His eyes were glowing, as if lit from behind the sockets, the skin under them dark, and bruised. His features were delicate, his body slight,skeletal, almost non-existent. The clothes he'd pilfered seemed to drape around him, flowing and creasing, adding to the shadows, and looking at him, Naruto couldn't quite tell if he was beautiful, or terrible.

In contrast, Gaara had already decided that if his hatred were to be personified, it would have sunny, blonde, hair, and dark blue eyes. It would be loud, and obnoxious, with freakishly white teeth, and would be staring at him from across the couch, seeming to want something from him, though he had no idea what that might be. Nor did he really care. He wasn't giving so much as an inch...of his own free will.

The fact that he had none nauseated him. On his knee, his fingers twitched, digging into the soft, worn, denim of the stolen jeans. He longed to wrap them around the blondes throat, to squeeze and squeeze until the boy could no longer breathe. Until he was choking and gasping, begging for air. For life. And yet he'd still squeeze, strangle, until he got his free will back. He needed it back.

It was the only thing he'd ever really had and he'd be damned if this person, this mortal, kept it. He refused to let him, not without a fight.

Naruto blinked, shifting a little, feeling the temperature drop a few degrees with the red-head's expression. It was as if his eyes had iced over suddenly. This boy hated him, that he knew. It was strikingly obvious. He'd done so before, and he was sure that collaring him had only deepened those feelings. But...

He was also sure that doing so was the best move he could have made. This creature, this cat-thing, may not like him, but he also couldn't hurt him. And the way he saw it, that was infinitely better. Especially since it was also, apparently, trapped here, confined indefinitely within his apartment.

Which, frankly, he wasn't too crazy about. But, in the past day or so, he'd come to accept things of a more...supernatural...nature, and had therefore accepted this recent installment fairly easily. It made about as much sense as anything else...

And so that was how he found himself sighing, forcing his lips to curve into a semblance of a smile, and shoving out his hand.

"My name's Naruto."

Gaara's expression didn't change, though some of the ice seemed to melt, giving way to confusion, or skeptic curiosity. Perhaps both. His eyes narrowed, moving his glare to the offered appendage, but making no move to return the gesture.

"Naruto Uzumaki", he tried again, shaking his hand a little. He was hesitant to touch it – Him. It was a him- but when being friendly... He was spared the act, however, because a few minutes later Gaara still haven't moved. Dropping his hand, he ran it over his thigh a few times, struggling to find his pocket. At least in this endeavor though, he actually succeeded after a few tries. Finally, after waiting for the thi- boy, to take the hint, it became clear that he wasn't going to fake any enthusiasm on Naruto's account. Letting his fake smile fall with a frustrated sigh, he finally just came out and asked...

"So what's your name?"

The green eyes narrowed, but that was all.

"Look, I know you don't like me, and honestly I'm not too crazy about you either. You know, just something about that whole attempted cold-blooded homicide thing... And trust me if it was up to me you could have just walked out when you wanted to, because frankly, I don't really want you here any more than you want to be here. But we don't have a choice. You are, for the time being, stuck here. In my house." He paused. "Eating my strawberries!" He ran his hand through his hair, hard enough to yank his hair back, before letting his gaze move across the other boy's body. Come to think of it... "Actually, never mind about the strawberries, just don't do it again. I'm on kind of a tight budget, just... Just, whatever. It's late, I'm tired. I have work in the morning. I'll talk to you about everything tomorrow just..."

He sighed again, it morphing into a yawn halfway through. Rubbing his left eye with the palm of his hand he watched Gaara through the right. He was still sitting on the couch looking as eerie and unreadable as before. But he could almost sense the confusion in the air. Getting up, he walked to his bedroom, only looking back when he was in the doorway. The red-head was staring out the window at something, he didn't bother to wonder about what. But he would wonder about what the hell had happened to his life, and how the hell it had come to this

Before disappearing into his room, he tried one more time.

"So, are you gonna tell me your name?"

Apparently he wasn't.

Gaara blinked as he heard the bedroom door click shut, before letting his gaze drift towards it, to where the blonde had just disappeared. This, Naruto. He frowned at the door, suddenly wishing for it to burst into a million tiny splinters, most of which would find themselves lodged into the boy behind it. The boy who was currently curled up in his bed, sleeping peacefully without a care in the world. No worries, no hardships, and complete control over everything.

Well, he wasn't really sure about the first two, they were just assumptions really. But they were the assumptions he was choosing to believe. They were assumptions that painted the blonde in a negative light, and he was determined to keep him there. After all, it wasn't hard to do. He was stupid, loud, controlling, mortal and-


Gaara Sabaku hated people, anyone and everyone. But he could read them, understand them. He was an expert at it. It was the main reason why he despised them all ; Because he knew all about them. Because he wasn't foolish enough to believe in things like truth and trust and love, the lies that people told to themselves and others so that they could have something to believe in. It didn't have to be solid, or backed by fact, scientific nor magical. They just wanted something, some way, to maintain faith in their race. Something to prove that they were good, to justify their actions and to make them happy.

But Gaara knew better. People weren't good, no matter what realm they were from. They were dark, wicked, creatures, selfish and greedy. They lied to themselves, lied to others, killed, stole, manipulated, all in search of their own self satisfaction. Their own monetary gain. In the end, no matter how kind or loving one appeared to be, there was always a motive behind it of some sort. It was one of life's toughest lessons, but one he'd learned well.

Which was why is frustrated him to no end , that the blonde idiot could still confuse him. He couldn't get a grasp on him, couldn't read him. He was unlike anyone he'd ever met, and he hated him for it. Hated that he was at such a disadvantage.

Looping one finger under the damned, green, collar again, he gave it a futile yank, wincing as he did nothing but dig the rough material deeper into the back of his neck. Jerking his finger free with a growl, he threw himself down on the couch, growling again at the ceiling. He would get free. And when he did, that blonde would pay...God would he pay...

With a sigh, he shifted himself into a more comfortable position on the couch, resigned to sleeping there tonight. If he could sleep, could stay asleep. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to, but the events of the past few days were beginning to catch up with him. Even though he'd been unconscious, it wasn't the same as sleep. It was fitful and restless, and between it and everything else -The culture shock, the transformations- he found himself suddenly exhausted. Yawning, he blinked, his eyes heavy, laden down with sleep.

With his exhaustion replacing anger, he was free to realize the temperature in the apartment. It was drafty on a good day, and now that it was night time, in winter, it was actually pretty cold. He shivered, curling into a ball on his side, facing the back of the couch, before he remembered the blanket from before. The one he could only assume had been given to him by the blonde. It was lying on the floor where he'd discarded it earlier that night.

He considered leaving it there, or throwing it out the window, or maybe tearing it to bits. There were knives in the kitchen, he'd seen them, knew they would be sharp enough to tear the delicate threads.

But in the end, his hatred for the cold won out. He reached across the floor, grabbed the blanket and was soon snuggled deep under it's warmth. It was soft, made of some sort of yarn, and felt good against his skin, smelling both familiar and strange, though not altogether unpleasant. Sort of light and sweet, but a bit spicy, or salty, or...something. He couldn't place it, but at the moment, with heat fogging his mind, he couldn't bring himself to care.

And it was only now, in this brief period of time, on a somewhat small couch, with moderately comfortable cushions, curled under a warm blanket and blinking sleepily at the few stars he could see, that he found his mind wandering where it usually wouldn't. With his fingers curled around the soft fabric, he couldn't help wondering about earlier. When he'd awoken, the blanket had covered him. He could only assume that Naruto had done it, but the action made no more sense now than it did then. Why would he have taken the time to cover him? Why would he care if he was cold, or caught a chill? What did it matter to him? He was his jailor, his puppet master. What concern could he possibly have for Gaara's comfort?

Why would he care when no one else ever had?

That was the last thought in his mind before he drifted off to sleep. But had his mind stayed alert a little longer, it might have realized that he was comfortable and warm, his body uninjured rather than aching with pain, his stomach full and happy.

And that it had been entirely too long since all of these conditions had been met at once. Far, far, too long.

Despite Gaara's assumptions, Naruto hadn't slept all that peacefully. He'd had difficulty getting to sleep at all, and when he had, he'd been plagued with dreams, strewn with nightmares. Images of horrible creatures with twisting spines, crying and yowling into the night. Bright lights flashing round every corner, and a strange old woman he seemed to know, though he' never lay eyes on her in his life. And so when he awoke he was both tired, yet relieved, and after dragging his tired ass to the shower, the sleep slowly washed away under the hot stream of water. Drying off, he dressed, before cautiously peering out into the living room, unsure of what he'd find.

He'd been a tad bit surprised to see that yet again, the mysterious boy had returned to cat form, yet there he was, lying in a ball under the blanket, illuminated by the light filtering in from the open window. He'd regained the tiny, furry, body and asleep, appeared harmless and adorable, with no trace of the strange cat-eared boy.

He had to admit, he liked him better this way.

He was twitching though, his ears, his tail. His legs kept moving restlessly, almost as if in the throes of a nightmare. Could cats dream, he wondered, watching the small creature move about in it's sleep, and was this one having as bad a night has he had?

His stomach gave a growl, but rather that sating it, he knelt on the floor besides the sofa. Reaching out, he touched the cat between it's ears, rubbing when nothing bad happened. He moved his fingers in small circles, rubbing at the base of his ears, trailing town it's neck, stroking down the small body with his hand in comforting motions. Because no matter what has transpired between them, he still had a weakness for animals and couldn't stand to watch it suffer. Not when there was something he could so easily do.

The fur was warm and baby fine, a mix between silk and fuzz as it ran beneath his fingers, covering the fragile skeleton he could feel against his palm. He could feel the tiny skill, the small vertebrae of it's back as they trailed down it's spine, and he suppressed a shudder. It reminded him of watching the amount grow and shrink, depending on his form. And yet, despite his reaction, he found he was growing strangely numb to it. Not the transformation, that was still horrible, but the mysticism of it. The magic. Somewhere along the way he'd begun to accept it, to think of it as normal.

He looked down, startled, as he felt small vibrations against his palm. Purring! This strange, angry, violent, creature was purring under his touch. His motions had stilled, relaxed, as was his intention. He felt a smile twitching at his lips, turning them up, unable to resist. It was just so amusing...

And so he continued to stroke the kitten, lost in his thoughts, so that he didn't notice when the green eyes began to blearily blink awake. He didn't notice the kitten turning it's head. But he did notice the sudden stop in the vibrations, the stiffening of the spine, a moment before the claws swiped out, managing to pull his hand back before they made contact.

"Hey, relax-" He began, but the cat would have none of it. It was up in a second, hissing and spitting before dashing off into the next room. Sighing, Naruto got up, dusting the dust from his knees ad heading off to the kitchen. The kitten may have been adorable, but he had to remember that it wasn't just a kitten.

Inside the bedroom, Gaara had scampered away under the bed, shaking from both the contact...and the dream beforehand. He'd been back at the castle, on a night not so long ago. There'd been darkness, darkness everywhere, the hands pulling, scratching. The blind terror, the repulsion-

And then it had been gone. Things had faded away into something warm, something good. Things had made a complete 180*. But when he'd woken-

He'd been touching him. He was shaking again, breathing heavily, his tiny heart pounding a mild a minute, stomach churning in revulsion. But whether he was revolted by the action himself, or his reaction to it, he wasn't sure.

Because despite his best efforts, he could still feel the hand warm and comforting on his back, and his cat-form still felt the desire to purr.

When he crept out of the room, Naruto had gone. The room held the aroma of toast and eggs, and for a moment he'd felt his heart burn with anger. The blonde had eaten, because he could eat. Because he wasn't trapped in the fucking body of a stupid fucking cat! His eyes weren't watering from allergies to himself! He could breathe freely!

And then he saw it. There, on the floor by the wall, lay a plate, containing a strip of bacon and a small scoop of eggs, it's aroma wafting around him, luring him in. Much like the blanket, he found himself helpless to resist. But also like the blanket, the very action confused him beyond belief.

Okay, so I don't know where the hell this chapter came from but I like it. And as I wrote it I was thinking that maybe I was moving too fast, but decided that I wasn't. I'm moving at just the right speed. But if this chapter is a little slow, I'm sorry. The fic really will pick up speed. Believe it or not, something important happened in this chap! It did! Lots of important things! Plus, I somehow managed to write this and update quickly! Who! Go me!

Lemme know what you think!


DarkAngelJudas: Naruto don't abuse the boy, taking advantage of him just because you can. That's just not right, and you sure as h*ll aren't going to make Gaara like you any faster if you treat him like sh*t like everyone else does.*frowns*

Don't worry. Naruto won't abuse him. They will fight some, and they will disagree, because Gaara is distrusting and Naruto has a bit of a temper. But in the end, Naruto will always be essentially good. Also, I wasn't trying to make Naruto mean in the end of chapter 4. That was just him testing it out, to make sure of what he could do. He'll actually use the power very little, something that will have a pretty big impact on Gaara :p

YamiTenshi: Well, I'm glad to see people updating period, so I won't be picky about what pops up. Not that I didn't want to see more of this. :D

Here's to hoping that you can bust down the wall. *gives you a rocket launcher* Have fun.

Odori Odori Kakumei!

A rocket launcher? Smiles wickedly* You have no idea the fun I will have with this... *wicked cackle while rubbing antennae * And yeah, people in general don't update enough! There are fics that have been abandoned for a year...and they were so good...*sniff*

If your review didn't get responded to, its probably because I had no particular, distinctive commentary when I saw it. No real response to it. It does not mean, in any way, that I did appreciate your review. I love all my reviews, and anyone who leaves them for me!

Anyways, I'm tired. So Goodnight. Until next time :)