The Four Nations
Book 2: Earth
Chapter 4.5: The Spirit of the Sands
"Why did you let Kyuubi run away, now we have to walk all the way back to Sìguó!" Suigetsu whined loudly as he wheezed out heavy breaths, trailing behind Sasuke and Naruto as they walked through the woods back on land.
"I couldn't leave him waiting at the edge of the sea, he could have been captured. Don't worry, we'll find him soon enough." Naruto grinned over his shoulder towards his trailing friend.
Naruto suddenly stopped, a strange wave of concern overwhelmed him. "What's wrong with you?" Sasuke asked, realising his yellow haired friend had stopped in his tracks.
"I don't know… I just got this strange, boding feeling… something's wrong…" Naruto replied, his brow furrowed with confusion.
He looked up to the blue sky, free from clouds and a clear bright blue. Only one thought came to his mind, he had no idea what it could mean, but the thought wouldn't leaving his mind.
A young red haired boy sat on the dirty street floor as the sun set crying, his body was covered in scratches and bruises, from his latest attempt to acquire some food for himself, he had not been successful, and in the times he lived in, the world divided and in unrest, and merchants, no matter the age of the thief would not tolerate a single loss of stock, he had paid the consequences for his failure. Luckily the merchant to some amount of pity on him for being a child and didn't rough him up too badly, enough to teach the boy a lesson but not enough to seriously harm him.
And so the boy sat, sobbing and starving, so began another long night from a rumbling stomach and unsuccessful attempts to sleep. He would move soon, to find a safe place to hide from other homeless people, those who wouldn't be so kind to him. For now he sat, his legs feeling too weak to carry him just yet.
"Why are you crying, boy?" He looked up, through the tears he saw a man with a soft face, two smaller forms stood behind him, one a slightly taller girl with very light brown hair tied back into for pig tails, the shorter one a small boy with darker brown hair like the man, but had a rather grumpy look on his face.
They were a family... A family… Something he himself had never had, all he had ever had from his parents was a name, given to him before they passed away, struck down during a Fire Nation raid. The orphanage told him he called himself that when he entered the establishment; Gaara. It wasn't long before he left it though, he was small, skinny and frail. An easy target for the bigger bullies, as broken as he was himself who lived at the orphanage, an easy target to take their hate out on. His hair was red, the Fire Nation's colour was red, it was a good enough correlation for them to focus their anger and hate towards him.
"Get away from me!" He screamed at the man, not because he was angry at the man's obvious wealth considering his clothing, not because of the slight plumpness his children showed, likely from steady meals. It was because they were a family he couldn't stand to be near them, they reminded him too much of what he didn't have.
"Real men don't cry." The man spoke softly despite being shouted at, a soft smile still remaining on his face. "Real men do not let their emotions show, they stay strong and fearless in any situation." He smiled again before nudging his children away, walking away and leaving the boy alone again.
The young Gaara traipsed the full moon lit streets of the small town. He had left the spot he was crying and was moving to find appropriate shelter ready for the long night ahead. When he heard the screams, finding the alley the originated from, he saw the man from earlier with his two children pressed back against the wall by a group of men, cursing him and his wealth, asking why he hasn't shared it, and how that was about to change.
Gaara didn't know why, but he felt compelled to help them. "Leave them alone." He called out, failing to mask the fear in his voice. What would he presence do to change what was going to happen. Five men against himself, he stood no chance.
The men of course laughed at his statement. "What's an orphaned street rat like you going to change?" One mocked. Before two of them began closing in on him.
With one hit Gaara felt to the floor, a foot stomped onto his head. The boy screamed, and in response the Earth moved, sending a pillar upwards into each of his attackers, knocking them into the air.
The other three looked in fear. "T-The kid's an Earthbender! I thought they all moved away years ago!" One of the men remaining exclaimed in fear. It was ability that, no matter the size and strength difference, as non-benders, they couldn't compare to. Quickly they high tailed it out of the area, running straight passed Gaara and back into the darkness.
The man with his children approached Gaara, extended a hand to him. "Thank you. You saved us. I promise you I will repay the debt to you." The man smiled towards him as softly as before. "Come, I will give you a home, a family. Never again will you be alone, never again will you be hungry."
Gaara stepped into his new clothes, he had been bought new sandals, but had left them on the side. He had grown big in only a few years, he had grown strong. His father had provided him with the best Earthbender teachers in the Earth Kingdom, and he excelled beyond all of their expectations, within a year he had progressed to advanced forms, by the second year he had master 17 of the 42 different master techniques in Earthbending. He could protect his family with his abilities, he loved them, and they loved him back.
As he walked along the halls he stumbled across a room that apparently with haste or without care the door hadn't been closed properly, it wasn't of note, until he grew close enough to hear the conversation going on inside.
"I don't understand why you keep that street rat around. Honestly, it sickens me to think he actually believes he is part of this family!" He heard his mother say from the inside, his eyes widening with shock and horror at this revelation.
"Enough. Gaara has proved himself useful. He has protected our family for many year and will continue to do so. He will protect Temari and Kankuro in the future. We must remain as we are, continue to show him love. His natural skill at Earthbending makes the townspeople fear him, therefore fear us. Crime has lowered drastically, taxes are being paid in abundance. My grip over the town has improved drastically since I acquired him, Gaara is a good tool."
Gaara stepped away from the door in horror. It was a lie, everything was always just a lie. He believed they had loved him as he did them, but he was misguided. He was nothing to these people but an object, they didn't look at him like a son, merely an item to be used as and when it its purpose was fulfilled.
He did the only thing he could think of, he ran. He had no reason to stay anymore. This wasn't his family, this was never his family no matter what he had believed. New thoughts now began to grow in his mind, ideas of disgust. What was family? He never knew love, and his trust was broken in those he thought to love. He had no need for it anymore, no need for family and love, he would be by himself, only himself.
The new idea plagued him as he escaped through the streets. He wouldn't turn back, he would not get emotional towards his depart from this town. Real men do not show their emotions.
Gaara stepped onto the golden sand of Si Wong Desert, looking around he saw nothing but the soft surface, as far as his eyes could perceive there was no sturdy rock, no solid ground he could bend to create shelter. For weeks he had walked, not knowing where the roads would take him, but they had led him to this new environment.
Quickly he tried to bend the sand, a simple Earthbending manoeuvre from the very basics, a forward thrust. But the sand was flimsy, the sand moved only briefly like the small ripples of a puddle. Something overcame the young red haired boy, something he hadn't experienced for many years. Fear. How could he survive in a place like this, where his prodigious bending was now useless? Had he made a mistake coming to this place?
Then he saw it, like a ship on the sea, some vessel carried people across the sand. They were fully covered in rags and robes, their bodies covered by the unbearable rays of the sun. But their clothing wasn't what enthralled him, it was what was in the middle of the vessel. A whirlwind, small and controlled, created entirely of sand pushed the vessel forwards like the wind pushed a sail. His eyes focused on the people creating it, they were Earthbenders, Earthbenders who had adapted to this new landscape.
Fierce determination overwhelmed him. Gaara vowed that he would master this new art, or he would let this desert take him beneath the sandy waves.
'Months have been and gone since I came here…' Gaara looked across the vast desert, his home now. For months he had followed Sandbenders, learned their techniques from afar, watching their actions. They were not peaceful people; they preyed on travellers crossing the desert, taking their belongings and food before leaving them stranded. I sickened him. Sandbending had come as a second nature to him, but he would not act as they did.
His eyes moved to the Sandbenders, in their vessels circling weakened travellers. From the distance he punched the air, and a blast of sand followed. It struck the vessel with force even from the distance it was launched from. Another followed hitting the second vessel and knocking it over.
He had done this countless time now. He spun around quickly on the sand, with seconds a massive whirlwind of sand formed, from the distance he launched it again, becoming a powerful sandstorm that enveloped the Sandbenders. But within the eye of the storm, protected from its ferocity were the travellers. The storm threw the Sandbenders away from the small group of travellers, and after that attack the Sandbenders gave up their assault, fleeing into the horizon.
The sandstorm subsided moments later. "It was him, he protected us! The Spirit of the Sands!" He could hear one of the travellers shout with utmost excitement and praise.
"Bless you, Shukaku! Bless you!" Was what he heard next from the group of weary travellers, he turned and began walking away, back into the vast desert.
'How many people has Shukaku, the Spirit of the Sand saved? How many people have I saved?' Gaara contemplated, his time in this desert had been dedicated to the lost travellers traversing through its waves. His Sandbending had improved to something that others believed was not from this world, that it must be a spiritual force, not a human's dedication to bettering themselves.
"UGH! It's so hot!" He heard someone whine loudly, turning he saw a boy, with weird bright yellow hair, riding on a large fox with nine tails waving behind it. They moved slowly, the boy stroking the fur behind the fox's ear. "Don't worry, Kyuubi. We'll find some water soon."
The boy then caught glance of Gaara, and instantly beamed at him. "Hey, why are you out here by yourself?" He called out to him, the fox moving towards him now.
"This is my home." Gaara replied after a few moments of silence, staring blankly back at this strange yellow haired boy. "Si Wong Desert is my home."
"This can't be that good a home." The boy mumbled out as he stepped off of the fox to walk closer to him. "I plan to build my own home at some point, then after that I'll create a village and protect everyone who comes to it. You can come with me if you want?" He grinned at the end of his sentence.
And Gaara's brow furrowed intensely, this boy, he had the same smile as that man. The one who promised him a home before, the one who gave him nothing but lies. "I am no one's tool!" Gaara screamed, launching a small sandstorm at the boy.
Yet the boy did not cower, instead he jumped towards it and with one slice of his arm swiped through it, blasting the storm into pieces. "That was some powerful Sandbending. There's all these rumours through the oasis's I pass through, about a Spirit who watches over weary travellers. Shukaku the Sand Spirit, to think it was a human and not spiritual intervention!" The boy laughed loudly to Gaara's confusion.
"You are still a tool." The boy's laughter suddenly died down, looking seriously at Gaara. "You are the people's tool. What would happen if you stopped protecting them? They would turn against you. You owe these people, this place nothing."
Gaara's eyes lowered to the sand, what the boy said were things he himself had thought. Why did he remain here to protect them?
"If you come with me, you won't be my tool. You'll be my friend."
Gaara's eyes widened as he looked back towards the grinning yellow haired boy. Friend. Like family it was something he had never experienced, what differentiated friend from family, was it just blood? Or could friends become family, those who love and are loved in return. He smiled at the thought, things could be different this time.
The grinned even wider as he began to laugh. "My name is Naruto by the way. And together, we'll create a place of peace, love and harmony. We'll create history!""
"Finally you guys are back!" Toph exhaled with relief as she fuzzily felt the group hit the sand after dropping out of the window as the library finally sunk beneath the sand. "I tried stopping the library from sinking, but it was so hard getting my footing on this sand."
Aang looked around at the empty desert, seeing only Toph standing with them. Instantly his mind was filled with worry. "Where's Appa?"
Toph was similarly filled with worry, feeling only four three people land on the desert's sand, she knew Aang's, Katara's and Sokka's weight easily enough. "Where's Gaara?..."
"My apologies, Princess, but I'm afraid that wound will scar you for life." Her ship's doctor spoke as he finished wrapping the bandages around her chest, covering her torso and arms with white fabric. "I do not know how a bending art had managed to inflict such a wound, the style and penetration appears more like the cause was a sword, not a bending attack." He finished saying before bowing to Azula and making his way out.
"It'll be okay Azula, your armour will cover the scar. And you still have your looks." Ty Lee tried to speak cheerfully and bring her friend's confidence back up.
Azula only continued to glare furiously at the bed sheets, her hands gripping the cloth tighter as her teeth clenched. "To think Sasuke was hiding such a secret from the world, from me!" She cursed the black her boy evilly with a venomous breath."
"What happened Azula? One minute you were fighting with Sasuke, the next you were on the floor far away from him with that in your chest." Mai spoke as dully as usual as she leaned against the wall of the infirmary room.
"Send a messenger Hawk out to my father immediately, we have discovered a shocking discovery." She ordered to Mai aggressively. "Tell him there is a yellow haired boy travelling with Sasuke, probably living in that village, Sìguó. Tell him, the Avatar is not the last Airbender. Tell him that yellow haired boy… HE'S an Airbender as well!"
A/N: Hey there! I'M BACK! Well not really, that's really what I'd like to say. I'm trying to get back into writing, and I could give a variety of resaons as to why I haven't been typing. But honestly, I just got bored of FanFiction, the stories I like to read are never updated so I stopped coming on FanFiction.
This chapter was Gaara's backstory. I wrote it after I lost my flare, would of it have been better otherwise? Yes maybe, I think Gaara's backstory had the potential to be more sad than Sasuke's, but bad writing and rush have not allowed it to meet that potential. It's not bad, but it could have been better.
Next chapter is whenever I manage to get it done, but I have in no way abandoned or discontinued any of my stories except The Namikage, I just need time to get my flare back.