Lonely. He was so lonely. Gaara crouched in the corner of a rooftop and hugged his knees to his chest. He was only seven, and yet he was already alone, already in so much pain. Deep in his chest, where Gaara thought his heart lay, there was a deep and bloody wound. It hurt. It hurt so much. Gaara buried his face into his knees and cried silent tears. He no longer made any noise when he cried, because he knew that no one would come. Gaara had already given up on expecting anyone to come and pull him out of this empty abyss known as loneliness. He had given up a long, long time ago.

Gaara woke up with a start. He didn't display any of the typical signs of a person who had just woken up from a nightmare. He simply opened his eyes. Gaara sat up in his bed and raised his face. Only then did he start to shake. He hugged his knees to his chest and struggled to calm his breathing. Gaara was a little surprised at himself. He hadn't assumed this position in years. He only did it when he was in pain, and he had already locked his emotions and feelings away deep inside his heart.

He hadn't felt suffering for a long time. But now, after the nightmare, or rather, it was an old memory, the ancient wound on his heart had opened up again. It started hurting. Stinging. The wound on his heart had never fully healed; Gaara had just learned to ignore the pain. Gaara slipped out of bed and went over to the window and pulled the blinds up. He rested his hands on the window sill and took a deep breath, his nose filled with the sandy smell of the desert.

He watched a small family of five walk through the village. The two parents smiled at their children as they ran excitedly around the street. There were two boys and a girl. Yes, Gaara had plunged his emotions deep into his heart and tried to forget, but now, they had begun to emerge, as though to remind him that he was still human, and still capable of feeling.

Gaara felt a small twinge of envy as he stared wistfully at the happy family. The father glanced around and spotted Gaara by the window. Gaara watched as the man's eyes widened and fear clouded his face. He tugged on his wife's arm and pointed at Gaara. The woman uttered a small gasp and then quickly called her children back. The two boys ran towards them, shooting Gaara frightened looks. A warm wind swirled through the Hidden Village of Sand, making a mini sand cyclone blow around the little girl. The father cried out to her, and the girl ran towards him. The mother turned angrily in Gaara's direction.

"Go away! Just drop dead, monster!" the mother shouted. Gaara looked at the family emotionlessly as they hurried away. The look of fear. The look of disgust. He was used to it. He endured those stares every day. The villagers never really said anything to him, but he could read the thoughts and feelings in people's eyes.

Go away! The eyes seemed to shout. We don't want you here. You don't belong with us.

Why? Gaara asked himself. Why him? Why was he the one who had to have a monster sealed within him? Why couldn't it have been someone else? Why was he the experiment? Why? Why? Why? Gaara asked himself those questions every day. And every day he was left with no answers. Every day he was left alone.

Wherever he went, he only saw people's backs as they ran away from him. He only saw scared glances and nervous faces. He had lost all hope of finding anyone that would recognise him, someone that would smile and greet him instead of back away in fear. He had given up. Gaara had endured his loneliness by himself for years. Even Temari and Kankuro, his so-called siblings were never there. And yet...

"Hey, Gaara, you awake?" Kankuro's voice called out from the hallway. "I'm coming in." Gaara glanced back behind him as the door opened and his older brother's grinning face appeared. "'Morning." Gaara nodded at him. "Hey, Naruto's here. He came to deliver a message to you personally." A second later, Temari popped her head in.

"Hey Gaara. Naruto's here. He came to deliver a message to you personally," Temari said.

"I just told him that," Kankuro said. "And I think Naruto's excited to see you. He was grinning all over the place." Gaara turned back to the window so that his siblings couldn't see the tiny smile that graced his lips. He closed his eyes and let the wind blow through his hair.

Though not always, wounds of the heart can be healed. It just takes a little recognition, a little love, just like Yashamaru had told him. Although he had tried to kill Gaara, Gaara still remembered what his uncle had told him about the wounds of the heart.

Gaara had strived for so long to not disappear from this world, to not feel as though he didn't exist, that he lost his humanity in the process. But when he saw Uzumaki Naruto fighting for his friends, Gaara had begun to wonder what was right and what was wrong. He had begun to wonder what love was like, what friends were for. He had changed, thanks to Naruto, and for that, Gaara owed him.

The pain in Gaara's chest have slowly started to cease. Temari and Kankuro felt like real siblings. They worried over him, they joked around him, they smiled with him. He had finally made a friend, Naruto. Naruto, the one who understood his pain more than anyone else. Naruto, the one who taught him that he could change. Naruto, the one who pulled him out of the empty abyss that had engulfed Gaara for so long. The abyss known as loneliness.

"Come on, Gaara. Even as the Kazekage, you can't keep people waiting," Kankuro said.

"I'm coming. I just need to change first," Gaara murmured. As he pulled on his robes, he began to feel a strange emotion. Gaara wasn't really sure, but he thought that the emotion he was now experiencing was joy. He had started to be acknowledged, both by the village and the people close to him. He didn't show any facial expression as he walked down the hallway with Kankuro and Temari behind him, but both of the older siblings knew that he was happy.

End.

So, how was that? Just so you know, the paragraphs that are in italics signify that it's a memory. Just in case people don't get it XP

This is my first Naruto fic, and I hope I described Gaara well enough for your expectation levels :)

Please review :D