Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

AN: Just wanted to point out that the events of this story take place before the Chunin Exam. With that out of the way, enjoy.

Abuse of Power

With great power comes a great desire to misuse it. Baki knew this; as a shinobi he was very aware of it. Like all ninja he held power over the lives of others, the power to end or not to end as he saw fit. Most civilians liked to pretend that they were immune, but all it would take to end that view would be just one of the many hardened killers that inhabited the village deciding to abuse their power.

Gaara had more power than anyone else in Suna, and he was well practiced in the art of misusing it. For him it came easy, and there were no consequences. But still, he wasn't like all the others; the thrill didn't come from the fact that it was forbidden, but the fact that no one could stop him if he didn't want them to. And every time he allowed someone to dissuade him, he saw it as just another way to flaunt his right of choice, a right few shinobi could grant themselves.

Baki was one of the few people Gaara allowed to dissuade him, so in this sense, he held some amount power over him. Not over his life, but over the lives of those the boy desired to kill. The power to direct a weapon of mass destruction, to select its targets. The jonin found it strangely ironic that he wielded more power through his youngest student than he did on his own. The temptation to abuse this authority was great, as great as the responsibilities that came with it.

Temari and Kankuro also held this power over Gaara, though neither of them fully realized it. If they didn't like someone, neither did he. If they showed hostility, his desire to kill rose. It was something both of them took for granted, as if they didn't know it was occurring; as if they couldn't comprehend the fact that they were special to him in a way. He always heard their advice, even if he didn't always choose to accept it. And though he threatened them often, he always chose not to hurt them.

There were times when Baki wished his two older students would finally realize the power they wielded through their brother and seek to abuse it themselves, if only to spare their sensei the temptation. Times like now. Times when the grief they got for being the demon-carrier's siblings came to a head.

They weren't openly harassed often; both were powerful in their own right, both dangerous in their own way. But like the power they held over Gaara, they had yet to fully realize it, or the temptation that came with it. Baki figured it was because they were continuously measuring themselves against their brother, who could make even the Kazekage himself feel weak by comparison.

Tonight their hecklers were a group of former chunin, all too maimed to serve anymore, and all drunk. The intoxication was the only explanation for this behavior, otherwise they would have noticed that both the despised brother and the avoided sensei were nearby, watching to proceedings with interest.

Temari had the demeanor of a man-eater, and a death glare that rivaled Gaara's. Few men could stand up to her for very long, and most women simply stayed out of her way. She could be viciously cruel when pushed, and took great pleasure in leaving her enemies utterly defeated and thoroughly humiliated. This was well known about her, and those who knew they had no chance were wise to avoid confrontations with her. But these were drunken men, not wise men, so the stern glower she sent their way did little to deter them.

Kankuro was unusually bulky for his trade. While most puppeteers were slight and slender, this boy was fast developing a large frame more suited to a close combat specialist. His persisting baby-fat hid his muscles well, and he had more upper-body strength than most people realized. That one harasser seemed genuinely surprised at the power the boy could put behind his shoves. The inebriated man actually stumbled back a few steps, crashing into one of his compatriots and bringing both of them to the ground in a heap.

Kankuro yelled at them then, telling them to get lost, and Temari threw in her own threat to back him up, warning their assailants not to make them repeat themselves. They were truly a formidable pair, Baki mused proudly, especially when they worked together. It was too bad this fact was lost on their opponents.

And all the while Gaara stayed perfectly silent and still in his observations, his face never once betraying his desire to make good on his siblings' threats for them. A subtle glance at his sensei's tense expression did little to change this craving. It had been a while since their last mission, since the last assassination attempt, and no doubt the demon within was thirsting for fresh blood. Baki was almost tempted to let him have it.

After that show of force from Kankuro, the harassers concluded that perhaps Temari would be an easier target. Though it was true that one of the girl's greatest advantages was the fact that she was frequently underestimated, this wasn't the best place for it to rear its head. Not in the middle of a street in the middle of the village with barely any room to swing her fan. She was anything but a victim, but such close quarters always made her tense and uneasy. And while the blow she delivered in reprisal was harsh, the noise she had made at the touch had had an edge of distress. An edge that made Gaara twitch ever so slightly, and caused Baki to make up his mind.

The jonin knew intellectually that he should let his older two students fight their own battles. He knew that that would be the best way to build their confidence in their own strengths. But he could no longer resist the temptation, not with this opportunity before him. He concluded that perhaps once, just this once, he would abuse his power.

"Kill them."