Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto

Rating T (I guess)

Extended summary: The story is set in the three-year gap between Naruto and Naruto Shippuuden. Sbaku no Gaara, the demon of the sand, was assigned a mission – exterminate the numerous rogue shinobi that preyed on the travelers on the border . It was a regular mission for Gaara. Let your siblings find the targets, move in, eradicate. It was always the same. But on this mission things went wrong. Horribly wrong. That is when she came, shattering his world with the force of a Jūken.

Spoilers to Shippuuden series.

Main pairing: Gaara/Hinata; Other pairings may come in time.

Mini author note:

"Konoha" –talking

'Konoha'–thinking

(Hope this explains it, now let the story begin)

-Fate of the Jinchuuriki – REDUX-

Chapter one: The mission

It was dawning. On the balcony of one specific building stood a very specific young teen. His red spiky hair was his most prominent feature, especially when compared to the shades of brown that covered both most of the building and his clothing. Two black rings that surrounded his eyes characterized his face, immensely pale under the fading moonlight. Even though all these features could point out only one person in the whole of Suna, a foreigner might still mistake the signs. That's what the gourd was there for. And the tattoo stating 'love'. These two were the clearest of indicators to any traveler. They indicated that the boy they saw was none other then the monstrous Gaara. Sabaku no Gaara, demon of the desert.

It was yet another sleepless night. Gaara clenched his fist in fury uncharacteristic of him. He wasn't mad at anyone in particular – only himself. It didn't matter how hard he tried, the demonic presence buried inside his soul was just too strong to fight alone. In rage, he punched the wall he was leaning on, cracking it on contact. He looked at his knuckles.

Not a scratch, the sand shielded him well.

And for the millionth time, ever since the failed chunin exams, Gaara cursed the village elders for giving him such a weak seal. In fear of harming themselves, they destroyed his life before he even got a chance to live it.

Attracted to the sound, several civilians emerged from their homes, looking for the one who caused it, only to run back inside in fear after seeing him. One particular plump of a man, a local merchant, ran back inside, only to run back out a second later, followed by the rest of his family. Every individual of the household carried a valuable in hand, from an elder who could barely walk to a little girl less than four years old. They fled in fear, disappearing into the web of streets that was Suna. It was their home that Gaara was standing on.

He could understand their fear. He wasn't someone to remain close to… he was dangerous. For a moment, he considered whether to secretly follow the group of people to their destination, ensuring their safety. He thought about it, ultimately deciding against it – the patrols of Suna chunin would be enough, and those people already had enough of a scare for one evening.

He could still hear the cries of the frightened girl echo throughout the streets. To Gaara, they were worse than the damning curses of the adults.

To an outsider, his stoic face betrayed nothing of the internal battle that was being waged within, but Gaara felt more insecure then ever in his life. Since his earliest youth, ever since he made the decision of fighting only for himself, he built walls around himself to push others away, adopting the idea of 'not caring'. But now things were different. He cared, he wanted to care, and that meant that the massive walls that surrounded his soul lost their foundation.

Using sand from his gourd, Gaara made a small, narrow bridge between the balcony of the house he was on and the opposite roof, quickly moving across it while it was still being formed.

'People have every right to fear me…' It was now three days ago, that he gave them more than enough encouragement for it.

(Flashback)

"Come on people of Suna! This pathetic little village dares to call itself one of the hidden shinobi villages that support the five great shinobi nations?" The foreigner yelled, sitting in the local ramen stand. Several of the civilians approached the stand, insulted by his words, but were quickly forced to retreat after seeing the swords of his three bodyguards glimmering in the sun. "Even your ramen tastes like sand! Is it one of your local specialties?" he spat on the ground. Already two of the chunins who were passing by made attempts to calm down the situation, but when they come near, the foreigner flashed a card indicating his position as the emissary of the Kawa no Kuni. The chunins cursed, but otherwise said nothing – that man had diplomatic immunity.

Continuing this provocation of the people of Suna, fully aware of the scene he was making, he threw a plate full of ramen to the ground.

"I said not to make it from sand and dog shit!" he yelled at the chef, who was now red in face from rage. Only if the bodyguards weren't there, he would have shoved that plate down the man's throat, and 'customers-are-always-right' be damned. But with the things the way they were, he only quietly took an empty pot and began cooking, praying that this unruly man would soon leave his shop.

It was to this stand that Gaara approached. Like the parting of the Red sea, the crowd scattered, some to the left others to the right, clearing a path for him to pass. As he sat down the chef, now ghostly white in face, shakily asked for his order.

"Fried gizzard."

"B-But, t-this i-is a-a r-ram-men st-tan-" His eyes met Gaara's gaze. "Yes, I will prepare it im-mmediately."

The man turned to face Gaara.

"What you like to eat guts and bladders of animals?" Gaara gave him a glance, noticing his beer belly and a sizeable double chin that seemed to reach all the way down to his sternum. He had hair as red as Gaara's, cropped. He wore a lavish outfit that Gaara rarely managed to see anywhere else other than on nobles and in the Daimyo's Palace.

'Probably someone from a rich family… Ridiculous.' He returned his gaze back at the chef who, once he became aware of it, quickly speeded up the food preparation.

The emissary continued to spout profanities, now directing them at Gaara and his choice of food. His bodyguards, noticing the rising levels of fear in the surrounding crowd, that seemed to retreat step after step further away from the ramen stand, almost as if they had a single conscience. Those at the back already were starting to run away. For experienced guards as them, the signs were becoming more and more obvious – to every move the boy made, regardless of its insignificance, the crowd would take a further step back. One of the guards tapped their employer on the shoulder.

"Sir…" The man slapped his arm away. "Don't interrupt me! Do you want me to fire you?"

"No sir." The man turned back towards Gaara. The crowd winced in fear, which by now was as tick as mud, and quite tangible.

The chief, how trembling in fear, approached his two customers. "T-The g-g-gizzard is ready." Seeing the look of approval Gaara gave him, he quickly walked closer, holding the dish with both hands, which were visibly shaking. In his mind, he already said farewell to his beloved family, and was reciting every single prayer he could remember. He firmly believed that, if he were ever to drop the dish, he wouldn't live long enough to see it fall to the ground.

Ignoring both the annoying man and the chef, Gaara put the money on the counter, and began eating, savoring the taste of his favorite meal.

In the background, someone said something in the crowd, but no one listened. Seconds later, a young, brown haired girl rushed out of it, pushing several of the civilians aside, who protested to her rudeness – some louder than others, primarily the ones than were pushed in Gaara's direction, their voices elevating to a higher pitch due to their fear. Realizing the girl wasn't going to stop, but was actually heading towards the demon, several people reached out to stop her, but she shook of their hands without stopping. As she got to Gaara, she reached towards him.

"Gaara-sensai…"

"Matsuri" He replied.

The fat man turned his insults towards her.

"So, you're supposed to be a shinobi?" He spat at her feet. "Bah, can you even throw a kunai?"

Seeing that the girl ignored him, he grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back. "I'm talking to you, you little brat!" He swung his arm, in an intent of slapping her.

...

The sand filled the air.

(End flashback)

As Gaara neared his home, he could see the ruined street several blocks away. The ramen stand was completely obliterated, and the street itself had three small holes over a meter in diameter, where the bodyguards stood when they raised their swords.

'Why couldn't I stop myself back then…?' he wondered. 'I didn't mean to kill him… I just couldn't stop.' He knew that his student had already forgiven him, even though he almost lost control that time. He wasn't sure whether he should be happy or mad at her. Being so forgiving towards him could prove to be a lethal mistake, should he ever truly lose control over the demon within him, but on the other hand, knowing that he had not lost the only person who truly believed in him other than his siblings felt – in lack of a better term – warm.

As he entered through the open window of his room, he collected all of his sand back into his gourd, then tossed it into the furthest corner of the room. As he laid on his bed, Gaara remembered that tomorrow he, Kankuro and Temari were to meet the Kazekage council , a temporary ruling body of Suna that was in control until the election of the Godaime Kazekage, and that they were to receive their next mission there.

O-O-O

Several hours later, in the Kazekage council's temporary meeting chamber…

Gaara and his two siblings, Kankuro and Temari, walked through the door. The moment he stepped through the door, the atmosphere inside the room changed. No more were there idle chats between friends. Everything became strictly business.

'Hn.'

Though Gaara had been already used to that kind of treatment by everyone in the village, he still couldn't help but feel bitter. He tried to change. He desperately tried, and yet they failed to even notice. Once, none of it mattered to him. Back then, he cared, loved and fought for only himself, therefore the opinions of others didn't matter. But that was then.

'Ironic…' he though to himself. 'The same people I would have killed for only looking at me the wrong way are now the ones I would kill for…'he looked outside the window next to which he was standing. The people out there… they were the ones he would die for. Amazing how in only five and a half months someone's life could change so much.

His fists unconsciously clenched.

"Gaara." It was a faint whisper. Temari. She was pleading him.

'Hn?' the red-haired boy wondered, raising is almost nonexistent brow, before realizing what those subtle motions of his hands meant to the people around him. It meant he was ready to kill. He shook his head.

"Sorry."

The meeting continued uninterrupted.

The elderly jounin, covered in scars – a testimony to the long years he spent fighting on the front lines, began explaining the mission specs but Gaara, lost in his thoughts, failed to hear him.

'Why bother anyway? I already know what mission I will be assigned to.'

It was always the same for him. Search-and-destroy. It was the only mission that a weapon was good for. Yet Gaara wouldn't be swayed. He continued to struggle, always trying to find missions that didn't require senseless killing. He constantly demanded to go on more missions, only making small pauses between every three or four of them to give his siblings a break.

During that time, he would train with Baki, determined to no longer rely solely on the Shukaku's sand. The kunai and shuriken were some of the more interesting pieces of equipment Baki made him work with. Now he was wearing a small holster full of the two types of weapons.

'I wonder if I'll ever need to learn kenjutsu as well…' For a second he considered paying attention to the briefing, but giving it a second thought, 'I can always ask Kankuro or Temari to tell me the details.'

He didn't know how much time had passed since they began explaining everything to them. During that time, he would most often just gaze out the window. From it, he could see the young academy students practicing their skills with the kunai.

Minutes passed by.

He felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. Without even turning, he just stated.

"Kankuro."

The puppet-master hesitated for a second, but continued.

"The meeting was over five minutes ago, Gaara. We got assigned to a new mission, it's-…"

"Search-and-destroy, right?" Gaara interrupted him. "Let's get going."

O-O-O

One and a half days later, on the border with the Fire country…

Two shadows blurred across the treetops. The girl covered her microphone to avoid and interference from the wind.

"Gaara, how's your signal reception?" In an instant, she saw the red-head reaching towards his face, mimicking her.

"Loud and clear. Stay alert." Temari couldn't help but chuckle a bit. There he was using his hand to cover his microphone. To an outsider this may seem insignificant, but until just recently, he would still use the sand.

She landed on a thick branch of an old oak.

"Was there any word from Kankuro?" Some fifty meters from her, Gaara paused on top of a tree to look around to spot any possible threat that may have eluded Kankuro, who went up ahead to scout the area.

"None. He'll call when he has something to report."

Temari scoffed.

"That idiot better not be dozing of under some tree! If he is I'll bash his skull!"

Deciding that it would be best not to reply to her, he simply added, "We should hurry." With that, they moved out again, picking up speed with each jump.

O-O-O

Meanwhile, some ten hours away from the border…

"Oh, come on already, Hinata! Hurry up or we'll leave you behind!" The boy's shout was immediately followed by a dog's barking.

The girl simply stuttered a shaky Hai, and picked up her pace, quickly matching her speed with her teammates. The boy gave her another glance, making sure she was keeping up – just to be on the save side.

"Yosh! Let's go, Akamaru!" The boy shouted again, running next to his dog Akamaru, who now had almost sixty centimeters in length. In response, the dog barked, waving his tail.

The second boy maneuvered closer to the duo. He was wearing a trench coat with a high collar that concealed most of his lower face. He also wore glasses that semi-concealed his eyes.

"Kurenai-sensei says that we are to stop here."

"H-h-hai, Shino-kun. K-Kiba-kun!" She called her other teammate, "We're going to take a break!" The boy in question, Kiba, looked at her confusedly.

"What, already! But we had our last break three hours ago! Me and Akamaru can keep go another hour an a half, easily!"

"Sorry, K-kiba-kun! Sensei's orders." She smiled as she heard her teammate's dissatisfied grumble. The moment they hit the ground they were approached by a beautiful black-haired woman, Yūhi Kurenai.

"Sensei, why are we stopping now?"

The woman simply reached for her kunai. The sign couldn't be clearer – enemies.

In an instant, the ground beneath their feet exploded with several shinobi attempting to slash their targets. If they were facing a different squad, they might have won. But against team 8 they never stood a chance. The two that jumped at Kurenai screamed as what they believed to be the Konoha jounin turned in to an acidic mist. The next moment they were lying on the ground, knocked unconscious, their faces still bearing the horror of the illusion they were caught into.

As for the Hyuuga heiress, she had troubles of her own, namely the three rogue shinobi that were trying to surround her. If their stance was any indication they were probably genin.

Her hands formed a seal.

"Byakugan!" The veins on her temples bulged.

The first of three jumped at her, kunai in hand, in an attempt to overpower the girl it taijutsu. As soon as he got close enough to stab at her however, she lunged forward with her index and middle fingers at the genin's shoulders.

The result was instantaneous – the kunai just slipped out of the genin's grip, as both of his arms slumped down uselessly. The only thing that saved him from getting knocked out were his two companions that immediately charged forward. After sealing away the tenketsu in the second's arm then punching him at the base of the neck, Hinata glanced over in the direction of her two teammates. She was surprised to see the two using tag fighting to take down their opponents, with Shino's bugs providing a perfect cover for Kiba's and Akamaru's Gatsūga – the enemy never saw them coming. As for Kurenai-sensei, Hinata could clearly see the effects of the genjutsu. Considering everything the fighting would soon end. That just left…

She felt her opponent's kunai cutting through skin on her left shoulder. She winced in pain, but still didn't fail to seize the only opening she needed to take him down. She smiled inwardly as inspiration struck was the most bizarre tactic she ever used, but there was no denying the fact that it was almost always successful. Given the fact that you survive the your opponent's attack, you will be able to defeat him, since the enemy always has the most openings when delivering what he or she believes to be a winning blow.

Given the fact that you survive, of course. And she survived… With a powerful blow to his chest, she released the brunt of her chakra in the form of a Jūken.

She turned towards the last of the three of her opponents, the one whose arms she disabled. He quickly tried to back away from her, but tripped over some roots and fell down. Hinata pulled out her kunai.

"It's o-over. S-Surrender, please."

O-O-O

Several minutes later…

"Damn, Hinata! And here I thought I was the reckless one!"

To say that Hinata was embarrassed was a definite understatement, since after her teammates saw her wound her face practically went through every single shade of red.

"S-sorry, K-kiba-kun… I just-…" The boy just shook his head.

"Forget it. Luckily for you, Kurenai-sensei also knows some basic healing jutsu – otherwise you'd be stuck with a permanent scar there, Hinata."

"S-sorry, guys." Even though her shoulder was now bandaged and the bleeding stopped, she could still feel some of the pain in her arm whenever she used it.

Feeling embarrassed with what happened, she tried to apologize again, but was interrupted by the bug-user Shino, who approached them.

"We should move."

Looking at him, she nodded. The mission was only getting started.

O-O-O

Half an hour later…

Though often regarded as just another pretty face, Yūhi Kurenai was that she was one of the elite jounins of Konoha and the best genjutsu user outside the Uchiha clan. Now that the Uchihia were no longer a part of Konoha, one might state that Yūhi Kurenai became number one. And those that said so were absolutely correct.

It was this very fact what was now confusing her. As she ran over the treetops leading her team, she couldn't help but wonder at how one of their attackers, who was wearing a Konoha forehead protector failed to recognize her. Could the forehead protector have been a fake? Or was he a deserter? If he was, he should have recognized her. Her scowl only deepened.

Take the fact that none of the survivors was the leader, and add to it the fact that the five that they did manage to take down alive couldn't explain why the ambush was placed there – there was definitely something going on.

It felt exactly like they were heading into a well-orchestrated trap.

O-O-O

A/N: And that's it for the chapter one of 'Fate of the Jinchuuriki – Redux'.

Translation section:

Jinchuuriki - (literally meaning) 'Power of Human Sacrifice'; People who had a Tailed Beast sealed inside of them

Suna - sand

Sabaku no Gaara - Gaara of the Sand Waterfall (or Gaara of the Desert in the English media)

Kawa no Kuni - Land of Rivers

Kenjutsu - Sword Technique

Gatsūga - Fang Passing Fang

Jūken - Gentle fist

Genjutsu - Illusionary Techniques

...

How I was inspired to write this story? I find it hilarious, so I'll share it with you.

The whole "Fate of the Jinchuuriki"-thing was a plot bunny I got after seeing a picture of Gaara and Hinata together, standing back-to-back, but I didn't recognize them immediately. One I did, my reaction was priceless. It was like – Oh, what a cute couple… Wait a sec, isn't that…*jaw hit the floor* Gaara? With Hinata! Wow, didn't see that one coming.

Anyways, see ya in 24 (maybe 48) hours, with chapter two!

~KuroiTori-sama