Note: I like Gaara with sky blue eyes, therefore I will write him with sky blue eyes. It's not going to be a main point of the fic or anything, so you probably aren't gonna die even if you like his eyes to be green. If you do die, I give you my sincerest apologies and say 'rest in peace'.

-=-=Reality Fades=-=-

If this is a dream; I never want to wake up. If this is an illusion; I never want to see through it. – '夢鷹コウルイ'

Usually when people close their eyes for the span of a single breath, they open their eyes to find themselves in more or less the same circumstances in which they temporarily blocked their sight.

Why, then, did Sabaku no Gaara open his eyes to find a decidedly not destroyed Suna laid out, glowing in the pale light of a half moon, in front of where he stood on another not destroyed building when there had been no Sand Village at all just two seconds earlier?

Gaara's feet were set on something rather solid instead of the shifting sand on which he had stood just a moment before. Looking down, Gaara noticed that his clothes; black shirt, black pants, black sandals, white sash, and brown gourd strap; were clothes he had started wearing a short time before he turned twelve and had stopped wearing sometime before he turned thirteen.

Was this a dream, then?

It most certainly could not be real.

And yet…

In all Gaara had ever read or heard about dreams, there was an unreal quality to them that made it obvious that whatever events were taking place were a dream.

This had no such quality. Every detail was in its place, every feeling was perfectly sharp.

But it wasn't possible, so it couldn't be real. Cannot be real but cannot be a dream… where does that leave a person?

It left a person stuck in-between until something tilted the scales one way or the other. This something came along pretty quickly.

This something came in the form of a malevolent presence lurking in the back of his mind. The presence that had disappeared and had never bugged him again after the Akatsuki had captured him.

This something was the presence of a demon; the One Tailed Demon Shukaku.

Sabaku no Gaara was pulled from his thoughts when a person –Temari, Gaara identified – spoke from the other side of the door of his bedroom.

"Um… Gaara? Father would like to see us in his office in an hour. Just letting you know…"

Soft footsteps could be heard heading away from the door. Why stick around? He was the Demon of Suna, after all.

Gaara recalled that it had been a habit that he was in his bedroom from dawn to sometime around noon, so that explained his sister coming with the message. He glanced out the window. It was approximately eight in the morning.

It was one thing to figure you're in the past when you see the buildings of your village still standing, but it was a whole other thing to hear the younger-sounding voice of your sister outside your door; the sister who had died a few days earlier.

Temari had never been a person of much emotion or many words, but Gaara could remember the six words she had said at the small funeral held for Kankuro who had died bringing down a powerful member of the Akatsuki. Those words had held the most emotion Gaara could ever remember hearing in her voice, though Temari had hidden it well enough that anyone that did not know her wouldn't notice. Six words; Idiot little brother… I'll miss you. Temari herself was killed the next day when the Four- and Five-tail demons were released on the Sand Village.

Now Gaara was going to have to see his siblings' faces - a brother and sister who he saw die - without betraying the slightest bit of feeling. The One-Tail Jinchuuriki again found it a very good thing that he wasn't an outwardly emotional person.

Gaara's sky blue eyes scanned his room one last time before he resigned himself to his fate; he couldn't exactly skip a meeting with the Kazekage. Bringing his left hand up in half of a Ram hand seal, Gaara focused his chakra and disappeared in a swirl of sand.

A moment later, Gaara reappeared next to his siblings who stood in front of the Kazekage and the sand dispersed. Kankuro and Temari were immediately a little more defensive in their positions, not trusting their younger brother in the slightest. Not that Gaara blamed them, though it was difficult to accept that they no longer knew he had changed.

…Not that it was easy to accept the fact that he was apparently in the past

The Kazekage – Gaara refused to acknowledge him as a parent – began going over the plan for the Suna and Oto invasion on Konoha.

Gaara already knew the plan – and didn't really care anyway – so he leaned against the wall, arms crossed, and made it look like he was paying mild attention while he thought about his unusual situation.

A sharp pain stabbed through his skull. As Gaara clutched his head in hopes of keeping control, he had to refrain from voicing a few of Kankuro's favorite swear words. He had forgotten just how annoying the raccoon demon could be, and he had been distracted. Being caught off-guard was a dangerous thing.

Gaara devoted all of his willpower to keeping the beast from taking over. Again bringing his left hand up to form a seal, the demon container teleported away- away from people he could accidentally hurt while he tried to gain back full control.

Temari glanced at the two remaining occupants of the room. It appeared neither was going to do anything about Gaara. Kankuro was too terrified of their younger sibling. Their father – the Fourth Kazekage – just didn't care enough.

Kankuro may not have noticed, but Temari had seen that Gaara was acting differently, less malicious. True, Gaara did have days when he acted almost normal, but he was always more… threatening when around their father. There was obvious dislike in the air between the two – it was mutual – but Gaara had seemed almost content otherwise.

Temari sighed and walked toward the door. "I'll go find Gaara."

The older siblings were supposed to look after the younger ones, right?

Temari found her youngest brother on a rooftop not too far from the Kazekage tower. Gaara was on his knees with both hands clutching his head in obvious pain. Temari leaped to the rooftop he was on, though she stayed a safe distance away. Facing him from the side, Temari saw Gaara clench his teeth in pain and sand started swirling on the ground around him at a dangerous speed.

Temari didn't know what to do. She was terrified of Gaara, and yet… she couldn't stand seeing her little brother in pain. Sighing in resolve Temari decided that, even if it risked her life, she would try to offer Gaara what comfort she could.

Braving the raging sandstorm around her brother, Temari cautiously walked up to him and gently laid her hand on his shoulder.

Temari wasn't exactly sure how it helped, but she could see the sand fall more lax in its pace and Gaara's expression seemed less strained.

What Temari figured was about a minute later, the raging sand had finally slowed to a stop. Gaara was only holding one hand to his head, the other arm hanging relaxed at his side and the look on his face was now one of concentration instead of pain and he wasn't breathing as hard as before. Though Temari knew she was trying her luck already, something, perhaps some sort of instinct, caused her hand to stay on her brother's shoulder.

Gaara's breathing was back to normal after a few seconds. Slowly he stood up, dropping the hand that was on his head. Temari quickly removed her hand from his shoulder having tried her luck enough already for one day and silently praying she hadn't already gone too far.

Temari saw Gaara's head drop a fraction of an inch and an unidentifiable expression come over his face. She stared in slight surprise at the calm, perhaps even contented look he had. It was something Temari had never seen on her youngest brother's face before.

The next thing he did caused Temari's slight surprise to turn into barely controlled shock.

Gaara's lips upturned slightly into what was unmistakably a smile. It was a small smile, true, but it was still a smile.

Sabaku no Gaara – the Demon of the Sand, a heartless killer who never showed happiness or care – was smiling.

It was at that time Temari determined that she had to be either dreaming or hallucinating.

Gaara brother turned towards her, his eyes unreadable, and he almost caused Temari to faint from all the compiled unbelievable things these last few minutes when he spoke something far from normal.

"Thank you, Temari."

It took said kunoichi's mind one or two extra seconds to comprehend what had just happened, but she eventually managed to stutter out a reply.

"Y-you're welcome."

What was she supposed to say? Her brother, who had killed without a second thought, threatened her life hundreds of times, a boy who, in the last six years, had never shown emotion other than anger or annoyance, had just thanked Temari with a genuine, serene smile.

That was the first time Temari truly pondered the being known as Sabaku no Gaara.

Note: Please review! I apologize for the chapter's length; I didn't know how to continue, so I'm just doing a short time-skip to the next chapter.

I hope my plot and writing ability are passable. I'm not a great writer, but I have a vague understanding of grammar and spelling, and hopefully an inkling of an idea of how to form a plot… Is anyone willing to dish out a little constructive criticism? Constructive, please; my self-esteem is practically nonexistent as it is.

Sorry this took so long, I've been having tons of school troubles along with almost unbreakable writer's block, and getting a job didn't help. I'm also trying to get Hit the Fangirl out of the way since it's the most popular at the moment. I will do my best to get the next chapter of Flip the Hourglass out by the end of October at the latest.