DO NOT SKIP THIS AUTHOR'S NOTE PLEASE IT BENEFITS YOU AS WELL AS ME! SO PLEASE READ!
Finally I've got around to writing this! It's been running around in my head for days but I've been busy with other fanfics (that have ended up going nowhere by the way) so now I can focus on this one. It's called What If…? Because I was watching the battle between Naruto and Sasuke at the end of the first Naruto and I was screaming at Gaara to go find Naruto instead of fighting Kimimaro, so I decided to make him whether he wanted to or not. If he seems a little OOC I apologise, I'm hopeless at keeping Gaara in character. And also I've tweaked a bit here and there, so if any of this doesn't match up with how Naruto was found, that's why. After this I'm going to add some other what if this happened in this episode things, so if you have any suggestions, or want to tell me what you think should have happened in a part of Naruto, then I will be glad to hear it so I can write about it. Just PM me with your ideas if you don't want to or can't write it yourself and I'll do my best to come up with a chapter for it. And of course I'll mention your name in that chapter. Also, if any of you want any pairings, let me know and I'll put it on for ya. I'm going to put in mild yaoi coz I LOVE yaoi, but I'll make it so you can think of it as friendships to those who don't appreciate yaoi. Remember, if I don't get reviews I can't improve so help me to help you! But don't just randomly flame me, I want constructive criticism. Thanks people! ^_^
Disclaimer: I own nothing but half the plot. And most of this dialogue is from the English dubbed episodes (sorry to anyone who's seen them in Japanese but I only have the English versions on my laptop.) I've tried to get it word for word as best as I can but I was watching and writing at the same time so I might've missed some. Anyway, hope you enjoy my work!
Lee and Gaara sat against two trees, restoring their strength after the battle with Kimimaro, Gaara sat beside his gourd, his arms resting on his knees and his head down.
"It was sheer luck, I should have been killed." Gaara said, fatigue clear in his voice. "No it was not meant to be," Lee argued, "my sensei has often said to me, a good ninja always makes his own luck,"
"That meddlesome mother-hen?" Gaara questioned, sounding more like a statement than a question.
"Gai-sensei is nothing of the sort!" Lee shouted, "yes he stepped in, but only that once, and only because I was not yet strong enough."
They both experienced the flashback of the Chuunin exams where Gai got in the way of Gaara's sand.
"I am grateful to you for having saved my life," Lee began, "But I warn you, I will not abide anyone speaking ill of my sensei."
"…So you're another one eh?" Gaara questioned, looking up. "Hm?" Lee said looking at him.
"You have someone in your life who you honour and revere so much, that every hurt inflicted on them, is inflicted on you as well. And the closer they are to you, the greater the pain." Gaara remembered the words Kimimaro had said regarding not being alone, and being with Orochimaru forever in his heart.
"To feel so strongly for someone that you would fight for them, and die for them, you and Naruto Uzumaki have that in common..."
Lee made a sound at Naruto's name, but did not interrupt Gaara's speech. It was the most he'd ever heard the sand-nin say before, and he didn't want to interrupt him.
"However, what if this person you honoured and would even die for was not a virtuous person?"
"Impossible! Such a person, would – would not be worthy of honour or respect." Lee cried, not being able to stay silent any longer.
"No," Gaara said looking up at Kimimaro's suspended body. "Perhaps the companionship of even an evil person, is preferable to loneliness."
(Now this is the last we see of Gaara and Lee and switch to Naruto and Sasuke, but I'm not going to do that, because I don't really like Sasuke much.)
"You mentioned…Naruto-kun before, I was not aware you knew each other," Lee said. Gaara looked towards him slowly, and for a second, Lee thought he saw sympathy flash across his face, he shook his head, must've imagined it.
"I know Naruto better than he knows himself, and he knows me just as well," Gaara began looking to the ground again. "We are the same, him and I. We've suffered the same pain, and understand each other. Our opponent asked how could the likes of me ever understand him, but I understand very well."
Gaara looked back to Lee. "Orochimaru was the only person who gave his life meaning, just as Naruto Uzumaki gave my existence a reason to go on. I can understand how he feels, even though his precious person is an evil person."
"I see. You have a person, who you honour and revere too, and would fight for them, and die for them. And that person…is Naruto-kun?" Lee ventured.
Gaara nodded. "That is why I came here, your Hokage requested help from the Sand to come after your team, I insisted on coming, so my siblings followed. I was hoping to find Naruto, but…" he trailed off, lowering his eyes.
He felt ashamed to have let so much out to Lee, but he felt as though the genin would not speak of it to anyone. "Naruto-kun went ahead to find Sasuke-kun, a good thing too, that man would have been the death of him. Should we go back to the village or look for him, what do you think Gaara-kun?"
Gaara raised a non-existent eyebrow at the addition of 'kun' to his name, but said nothing about it.
He stood and shouldered his gourd. "It is not wise to go after him, my strength is little and my chakra gone. But…" Gaara looked in the direction Lee was standing in.
"I cannot protect you should you come with me, my sand protects me automatically, but to protect any others will take chakra."
"That is alright. I do have some chakra left, so I should be able to protect myself. I want to help Naruto-kun too, he went this way," Lee said starting off.
After looking back at Kimimaro, Gaara turned and followed.
He is an unusual ninja, thought Gaara as he followed Lee; he has no skill in ninjustsu or genjutsu, but continues on like it's nothing. It must be a burden for him, to be the only ninja without ninja skills. His will to never give up is also a trait he and Naruto share; it is an interesting thing to see among these Leaf ninja. Perhaps I will study them longer.
By the time they came to a waterfall it was nearing night, and it had started to rain slightly. "Naruto-kun!" Lee suddenly cried, Gaara's eyes widened slightly when he saw the motionless figure, lying half-submerged in the river.
Gaara's sand surged and Gaara expected attack, but instead it travelled over to the fallen Naruto and lifted him up, carrying him to the two boys and setting him down gently.
"I thought you said you're chakra was gone Gaara-kun, how did you do that?" Lee asked. "I…didn't do that." Gaara said slowly, amazed at his sand's behaviour. He knelt down by Naruto as Lee did to see him properly.
"He has taken quite a beating," Lee observed. Gaara's hands quickly clenched into tight fists, and anger shone in his eyes, Lee gulped a little, having never seen Gaara this angry before.
"Who did this?" he asked, thought his voice was flat, Lee could see the anger behind it quite easily. "Most likely Sasuke-kun, they always did beat each other up." Lee answered.
"Uchiha." Gaara sighed through his nose. "Wherever he is now, he better pray I never find him. Because when I do, I will crush him beyond recognition." He hissed.
He lifted a pale hand and rested it on Naruto's face, his other hand – curled into a fist – was shaking with anger, but the one that rested on Naruto was still, gentle even.
"We should take him to the hospital back at the village, who shall carry him?" Lee suggested. "I will." Gaara said immediately. His sand automatically moved again, and lifted Naruto to shoulder length as they stood.
"His wounds are extensive, but knowing Naruto-kun, he will be up and about in a few days, he heals quickly." Lee said. Gaara didn't respond. He knew why the blonde healed so quickly.
He sent a silent prayer to the Kyuubi to heal Naruto quickly.
Hehehe, look who's got a friend he doesn't want to die. Cute brat, real touching. Shukaku cackled in the back of his mind.
Shut up Shukaku, you will not interfere with my thoughts right now. Gaara responded, and slammed his mental shield down to shut the demon out.
Ever since he fought Naruto, and decided not to succumb to the demon ever again, he had developed a mental shield to shut him out. He was sure Naruto would be proud if he told him.
Gaara mentally shook his head. Get a grip Gaara, Naruto Uzumaki hates you, like everyone else does. He has good reason; you tried to kill his precious people. He wants you dead just like them. You are not worthy of calling Naruto Uzumaki a friend, not worthy of his care, so stop longing for it.
But try as he might, Gaara could not stop wanting – needing – Naruto's friendship. He needed to be accepted by him, not that he thought it was very likely, but he had to try.
Lee and Gaara arrived in the village sometime after midnight. Gaara's sand deposited Naruto into Lee's arms as they neared the gates. "Please be alright Naruto-kun," Lee said quietly.
"Gaara! You're okay! Kankuro he's here! Gaara!" Temari cried when she saw him. "Hey little bro, you had us worried there," Kankuro grinned. Gaara looked at them.
"You needn't worry for me, I'm fine." He said as Temari checked him over for injuries. "Temari." Gaara said again. He sighed. "Onee-chan," He said. Temari froze and looked up. "I'm fine." Gaara assured her.
"Gaara-kun, help me take Naruto-kun to the hospital," Lee said. "Hai." Gaara agreed and followed Lee, while his siblings looked at each other and followed him.
"Was Uzumaki-san there too?" Temari asked curiously. "No," Gaara said shaking his head. "He went after Sasuke-kun, but from the looks of it he lost the fight. We found him like this," Lee supplied.
"Oh. I see." Temari answered. Once they'd checked Naruto into the hospital, Lee went to see his friends Chouji and Neji who were also in hospital, and Gaara and his siblings reported to the Hokage.
"Ne, puppet-boy," said Kiba when they entered Tsunade's office. "Yeah dog breath?" Kankuro answered. Kiba grinned, "D'ya find Naruto?"
"Yeah. He's out cold at the moment; actually it was Gaara and Rock Lee who found him." Kankuro answered. "Lee eh? Didn't know he came after us after all, I'll have to thank him later." Kiba replied.
"Oh, and Gaara?" Kiba added, Gaara looked at him, "Thank you for bringing back Naruto." Gaara nodded and looked back to the Hokage.
"Well gentlemen, and lady. The mission was a failure but you're all alive." Tsunade said. "Now, Shikamaru." Shikamaru stood up straighter at his name, and Gaara noticed his sister's gaze left the Hokage to look at the Chuunin.
"Normally I'd ask you for a full report on the spot, but I can tell you're worried about your injured friends. I expect a full written report on my desk tomorrow morning. Everyone dismissed."
Nobody left faster than Shikamaru, and odd thing to see from the lazy Chuunin. Gaara hung back to talk to the Hokage in private. "Hokage-sama, I have a request," he started.
His siblings stopped at the door and turned to wait for him. "Yes Gaara-kun?" Tsunade asked.
"I would like to stay in this village for a while longer. At least until Naruto Uzumaki has healed." Gaara said. "Ah, worried about the brat eh? I am too so I can relate. Unfortunately all I can give you is a week." She replied.
"That will be sufficient. I thank you," Gaara turned and left, followed by his gob-smacked siblings.
Temari looked at Kankuro, who look as confused as she. "We should head back to the hotel and report to Baki-sensei now that you're back Gaara." Temari said. Gaara nodded and they left the Hokage Tower.
Baki came storming into Temari's room, waking her and her brother in the other room. "I thought I'd told you to keep an eye on him! He's gone!" Baki shouted. The brother-sister pair gasped.
"Check the hospital, I'll go around the village," Baki ordered. "Hai sensei." The pair nodded and left immediately.
They checked all the rooms, finally coming to Uzumaki Naruto's room. They went in and saw Gaara sitting in a chair beside the bed, looking down at Naruto, a far-away expression on his normally stoic face.
"G-Gaara?" Kankuro stammered. Gaara looked up and saw his frightened siblings at the door. Must've thought I came to kill him, he thought to himself.
"I wanted to see him." He said. Kankuro and Temari were rendered speechless. "O-Oh. T-That's nice of you G-Gaara, but y-you really sc-scared us for a m-minute there." Temari stuttered, a wobbly smile plastered on her face.
It was her way of dealing with Gaara; she put on a forced terrified smile and tried to reason with him. Gaara would have none of it, not anymore. "I apologise, I should have informed you." He said formally.
He looked away from their astonished faces and gazed down at Naruto. "H-How long have you been here Gaara?" Kankuro asked, not wanting to anger his little brother.
"Since three in the morning. I was worried about him," Gaara replied softly, letting one of his hands travel down Naruto's cheek a few times. Temari looked at Kankuro, his expression mirrored hers.
"Oh. That's…very nice Gaara. Well, next time tell us where you're going okay?" Temari said forcing a smile. Gaara nodded without looking at her. The brother-sister pair left to find their sensei.
Once they were gone Gaara's hand fell to his side, Naruto was stirring. "Hmpugh…" he mumbled unintelligibly. His eyes eased opened and travelled around until they rested on Gaara.
Aquamarine meet sky blue and they gazed into each other's eyes for what seemed like hours. "G-Gaara…? What're you doing here?" he said sleepily.
"Your Hokage sent my siblings and me after your team. We split up to help individuals that had been separated. Lee-san and I found you unconscious half-submerged in a river." Gaara told him.
Naruto pushed his way to sitting position. "Wow, that's the most I've ever heard you say in one go Gaara," he joked with a smile. Gaara glared, but in truth he was fighting a smile. Something he'd never done before.
"What are you still doing here?" Naruto asked. Gaara suddenly ducked his head, was he embarrassed?
"I requested to stay longer; I don't get out to this village much. My siblings and my sensei will be leaving this afternoon, but I will stay on for a while." He said.
Don't tell him that Gaara now he's bound to avoid you. He told himself, or was it Shukaku that was fuelling his negative thoughts? Either way he wasn't fighting them.
"That's great! How long are you here for?" Naruto exclaimed. Gaara's head lifted to see the excitement in Naruto's sparkly blue eyes. He was happy Gaara was staying?
"I have a week, no more no less, that is all the Hokage could give me," he forced himself to stay. Naruto's excitement heightened and he cheered, much to Gaara's astonishment.
"Yatta! A whole week! That's awesome! I've got to treat you to ramen one night, it's really good you have to try it you'll love it Gaara!" he rambled happily.
"I've really missed you, you know I was on a mission to the Land of Tea recently, and on it I met this guy who had lost hope in a race, a bit like you losing yours, and I thought, 'this guy reminds me of Gaara, and speaking of Gaara, what's he doing right now? I bet it's better than being stuck in a cold cave by the sea in the rain with a moody runner.'" Naruto chatted.
"You…think of me?" Gaara asked slowly.
"Every day! Whenever I get up I wonder to myself 'what's Gaara doing right now?' or 'I wonder how Gaara is?' and I get those glares from the village, and I remember what I am and I get depressed about it, I always think 'come on Uzumaki, Gaara had it worse than you, you can do this.'"
"What you are? What are you exactly?" Gaara questioned. "You said to me that you knew of my pain, and had experienced it yourself, but how? Why you?"
"Oh. Because…I'm just like you," Naruto said, his excitement slipping away from him and turning into past sadness.
Gaara's heart squeezed painfully when the light in Naruto's eyes died, and he clutched the fabric of his shirt over his heart, but not too noticeable so Naruto wouldn't see.
"Explain." Gaara said.
"You got Shukaku in you? I got Kyuubi. The Nine-Tailed Demon Fox, it nearly destroyed the village and killed hundreds of Leaf ninja. The Fourth Hokage sealed it away in me when I was born. I never knew my parents, my mother died giving birth to me, like yours, but I never even knew my father, and I still don't. And you know what's worse? I used to be exactly like you once, I remember how I hated them, because they hated me, and I couldn't figure out why. Then I was told about the demon inside me, and my world fell apart. But then Iruka-sensei came along, the first person to accept me for who I was, and I was saved. Now I have lots of friends and people who accept me, though they don't know about the Kyuubi since it's a forbidden topic here, and the adults still hate me. But you, you had no one, still don't. That's why I understood you, and I knew I had to save you from that bottomless pit, because I knew what it felt like."
Gaara listened intently throughout Naruto's story, and understood how alike they were, yet so different. What would have happened had someone come along for Gaara? Would he be like Naruto now?
"When we fought each other, I remembered thinking; would I have turned out like this guy, had Iruka-sensei not come along? Would I be the same cold-hearted killer, seeking to prove his existence? It was then that I appreciated my friends even more, now that I had seen what could have happened to me, had they not saved me." Naruto said.
Gaara looked up when he felt Naruto's hands grip his. For once he didn't flinch from the contact.
"I'm just sorry I hadn't met you earlier, I could've been there for you. I could have saved you Gaara," Naruto said, smiling sadly. Gaara squeezed that hand holding his slightly, and his mouth twitched upwards a little.
"You did save me. You made me realise the error in my resolve. That only by fighting for others, could I ever see true strength. And I thank you for that. I thank you, Naruto Uzumaki, for everything; for teaching me how I should live. For others, not for myself." He said.
"I did all that? Hehe, wow, never knew I had that kind of impact on people," Naruto said uneasily, scratching the back of his neck with his hand nervously.
"I really did that?" Gaara nodded. "I was going to tell you. I made a decision after we fought. I am going to join another team, and…and I'm aiming for the title of Kazekage, so I can serve others. I want to become someone's precious person. I want to matter to someone. To be accepted, as you did."
"Really? That's great Gaara! You go after that dream, and make it a reality. This is great, we can be 'kages together! You'll be the best Kazekage, and I'll become the greatest Hokage. Hey, do you have someplace to stay while you're here?" Naruto said.
"Well, I'm currently staying in a hotel," Gaara began, but Naruto shook his head furiously.
"No, no, no that will not do! No friend of mine is going to be staying in a crummy hotel all alone. You're going to stay with me, I got room and we could both use the company. And I'm not taking no for an answer."
Gaara's heart did a curious lurch when Naruto mentioned them being friends. He had never been anyone's friend before, and silently wondered if it was hard. How did you be someone's friend?
Were there rules? Did he have to do something special because he was someone's friend? He decided to ask Naruto later. It was then he realised Naruto had spaced out.
"Uzumaki, wake up." He said clicking his fingers in front of his face. "Huh?" Naruto said.
"You spaced out. Are you okay?" Gaara asked. "Um, yeah I'm fine. Um, Gaara?" Naruto said.
"Did Sasuke…did he…is he…gone?" Naruto stammered. Gaara's free hand clenched, "Uchiha was nowhere in sight when we found you. But if I ever find him I will not hesitate to kill him." He replied stiffly.
Naruto's eyes darted to Gaara's furious face. "No Gaara no! Please don't hurt Sasuke, why would you kill him anyway?" he exclaimed.
"I would kill him, because he has hurt the most important person to me, the only person that matters to me, my most precious person. Some friend he is, he is nothing but a snake, and I will see him suffer for it." Gaara replied.
"But Gaara Sasuke's just…wait what you say?" Naruto stopped short, only just realising what Gaara had said. "I'm your…most precious person?"
Gaara looked down, and Naruto saw the faintest blush creep up to his cheeks, which made him smile.
"You are the first person to have acknowledged me as something other than a weapon, and I…I would do anything to protect you," Gaara looked up, a blazing fire in his eyes much like Naruto's own.
"Because you are my first and only friend, and I would risk everything for you, and anyone who ever hurts you will regret it, I will not stand for it. Every hurt inflicted on you, is inflicted on me, and I wish I could protect you from it, but I don't know how,"
Gaara looked back to the ground, his hand tightening around Naruto's, he sounded on the verge of tears. "I don't know how to feel, so I can't be much of a friend to you, but I will be there for you Naruto, if I can."
Gaara stiffened as Naruto hugged him tightly. He slowly relaxed into the embrace and breathed in the scent of Naruto. "Thank you Gaara. You're my best friend, forever. Promise me we'll be best friends forever."
"I promise." Gaara whispered. It as a promise he would rather die than break.
The end! Honestly, I'm not sure if this came out any good, but what do you guys think? Pretty fluffy in the end I know but, I was in a love-dovey mood because my boyfriend had just lent me his Naruto Ultimate Ninja 3 game and my head was in the clouds when I wrote this. Did you catch my mention of KankyKiba? Hehehe, couldn't resist suggesting a future relationship between the two, they're just too cute. Oh and my ShikaTema suggestion too, that was good. Ahem, anyway, there it is, for what it's worth. Don't forget to give me suggestions on other re-writes of episodes or chapters I can do for you, or any pairings for some one-shots, and don't hesitate to criticise, but constructive please! No random flames 'kay? Thanks peoples! ^_^