A/N: Hey there all you faithful readers, and to you new readers, welcome to Chapter 5 of Prototype Maelstrom. On a completely unrelated note, I saw The Hunger Games recently and I have only one thing to say, it was AWSOME. It was very faithful to the book's plot, the actors really made their rolls come to life, and it was just overall an amazing movie, I highly suggest you watch it. Well, now that my Hunger Games high is over I'll get back to the previous topic, in this chapter we have Naruto fighting against a Shukaku-fied Gaara, some of Naruto's infamous witty humor, and the display of a few of Naruto's powers. In case you're wondering, here's the harem as it stands now, Haku, Tenten, Yugito, Matatabi, Fu, Chomei, Tayuya, and Konan, whether or not there will be any more, I'm still trying to decide. Now I should tell you, I'm probably gonna be a bit late in updating next week, I'm going on a trip my family goes on every year for Easter, and I'm not taking my laptop with me, so you might need to wait a few extra days for Chapter 6. But I think the wait'll be worth it, in Chapter 6 we're gonna see a lot of questions answered, like how Naruto gained the virus' power, how Haku's alive, and a few other things, so please be a bit patient. Last Chapters Word Count: 5252 words. Now onto the disclaimer.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Prototype, there I said it. Are you happy?

Sasuke was battling against Gaara... if you could call what was in front of him Gaara. The thing in front of him seemed to be made entirely of sand, with blue vein-like markings all around its body, it had yellow eyes with a square pupil with four dots surrounding it, black sclera, and the tattoo for "love" on his forehead. The only part of it that seemed to be Gaara were its legs, which were still human in appearance. The beginning of the fight didn't start off that well, and it had only gotten worse from there. Over the last month he had trained with Kakashi in order to gain a better handle on his chakra control and his Sharingan. By the end of it he had learned his sensei's one and only original technique, or at least a weaker version of it, the Chidori. He was capable of using it twice in one day, which was usually more than enough, but in this case it wasn't. He had already used it twice on the being in front of him and it healed from both strikes and went right back to fighting as though it had never been injured. He knew if he used it a third time, the curse mark on his neck would activate, and he'd be in way too much pain to even fight against this monstrosity that was once Gaara. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, he had a several Katon jutsu, and one or two special Taijutsu moves in his arsenal, but in this case it was. The sand beast seemed to be utterly immune to all of his Katon technisques, and up close maneuveurs were complete suicide. So right now, evasive maneuveurs were pretty much his only option.

He leapt back several feetas Gaara extended one of his arms to strike him, narrowly avoiding it. After landing he withdrew several kunai from his pouch and threw at his adversary. Gaara merely swatted them away as though they were bothersome flies, and flew at the Uchiha. Sasuke used his Sharingan to analyze the movement and evade the attempted attack at the last second and threw a few shuriken at it, which only bounced off of the creatures sand hide, leaving it completely unharmed. Sasuke cursed as the creature focused on its attention on him once more and launched several sand shuriken at him. He managed to evade several of them, but a few of them had left deep cuts on his arms, legs, and one on his left cheek. Landing on a tree branch he threw down a smoke bomb and made a quick escape, hiding behind a tree several yards away.

While he was trying to catch his breath, he heard Gaara yell out, in his familiar insane tone, "Come out and play Uchiha! Or are you scared of big, bad Gaara? If this is the best you can do then you wouldn't even prove my existence for a second. You're nothing compared to that teammate of yours. And you'll be nothing but a warm-up for when I kill him."

Sasuke looked down at that. He had barely been a challenge to Gaara, someone he had spent a whole month training to defeat. He thought to himself, 'Is this all I'm capable of? Am I really this weak? If I can't defeat him, then I'll never be a match for Itachi.'

He grit his teeth and made his decision. He hopped back up to one of the higher tree branches and went through three handsigns, then held his right wrist as lightning seemed to dance in his palm, and the sound of a thousand chirping birds sounded. Noticing him, Gaara charged at the Uchiha, ready to kill him, and then search out the Uzumaki to slake his 'Mother's' thirst for his blood. Sasuke, Sharingan blazing, made a beeline towards Gaara. As the two got closer, Sasuke dodged at the last possible second and slashed at his adversaries right arm, and yelled out, "Chidori," effectively cutting Gaara's sand arm in half along the length. Sasuke cursed in pain as his curse mark started to spread along most of his right side, causing him no small amount of pain.

Gaara himself screamed as he himself felt pain at having his arm sliced by the Uchiha's Raiton jutsu. Though, this only lasted for a brief moment before he let out an insane laugh as the sand arm started to mend itself. "Hahahahahahahaha! This is what I've been looking for, what I've craved! The blood of those who can actually injure me, first the Uzumaki, and now you! Yes, yes! This is what I've been looking for," he yelled in glee.

He gave one more insane grin, and charged at the Uchiha. Sasuke saw Gaara come at him in slow motion, due to his bloodline still being active. He thought this to be the very epitome of irony, he could see his opponent coming at him, read his movements, knew how he was going to attack, and he had the reflexes to evade. But, it was all for naught due to the accursed curse mark keeping him stationary because of the pain. He closed his eyes and waited for his life to end.

Gaara jumped at the Uchiha, bloodlust apparent in his eyes. He wanted this more than he wanted anything else, to kill someone who had injured him, the ultimate proof of his existence. That despite the fact he could be injured, he could never be killed, never be defeated, and no matter what he would always be victorious. Nearing the target he raised up his claws, and made to end the Uchiha's life.

Just as he was about to end his opponent's life, he heard a cry of, "Dynamic Entry!"

Naruto appeared and delivered an aerial kick to the side of Gaara's head, propelling him fifteen feet away. Landing next to his teammate he turned to Sasuke and said, "You have no idea how hard it was to find you. I hope you appreciate me saving your life."

Sasuke turned to him and asked, "We're nearly a mile out in the middle of nowhere. How the hell did you find us?"

"Red's demon chakra is very powerful, anyone who has even the slightest sensory talent could find him." He looked down at his friend and noticed the marks spread across his teammates right side. "So you ended up activating the snake-pedo's hickey, what a joyful experience this fight must have been."

Sasuke gave Naruto the stink look, shook his head, and said, "Listen Naruto, we need to get out of here. This guy isn't normal, I used three Chidori's and several Katon jutsu on him, but he just shrugs it off."

Naruto merely shrugged and said, "Yeah, I know he ain't normal. But the difference between you and I is that I'm not normal either, and I can handle him."

"Are you sure he'll go after you when he's got easier prey in me?"

"UZUMAKI! I'LL HAVE YOUR BLOOD!"

Naruto merely turned to his teammate with a raised eyebrow, and asked, "Does that answer your question, or do you need more proof?" Not giving him the oppurtunity to respond, he chopped Sasuke on the neck, effectively placing him into unconciousness' firm grasp. Making a Shadow Clone, he picked up his teammate and handed him to his doppleganger. "Make sure he gets to safety. And dont forget to collect 'that.' Handing his clone an empty syringe he sent it and the emo away.

Sensing a figure charging at him from behind he raised his right arm in defense as a large, clawed arm crashed into it. Smirking at the figure attached to the arm he said with mocking and humor apparent in his voice, "Woah there Sandy. Gettin' a bit excited aren't you?"

Gaara jumped back several feet and yelled out, "Mother wants your blood Uzumaki, and I'll give it to her! No matter the cost!"

Snickering he said, "'Mother?' So Shukaku's a crossdresser? Hehe, oh Hairball's gonna get a kick outta that one."

Gaara growled, which was probably pretty easy since he was more beast than man at this point, and yelled out, "Just shut up and DIE!"

Gaara launched a barrage of sand shuriken at his opponent who merely pushed his palms outward and destroyed them. Naruto then charged at Gaara and delivered a strong blow to his opponenet who blocked it with his arm. Cursing, he used the recoil from the punch to backflip into the air and deliver an axe kick to his adversaries head. Jumping back, he once more cursed, seeing that his attacks had done very little actual damage to the Shukaku-fied Gaara. Though not one to be dettered from any action, he once more took the initiative and charged at his fellow jinchuriki. Gaara swung his arm, which extended and forced his opponent to halt his charge and block the incoming arm with both of his. Though this still launched him away several feet, slightly disheveled.

Landing on his feet, he wiped some of the sand off of his hoodie sleeves, and looked at Gaara with a calculating look before grinning a wicked grin. He proceeded to say, "You know you're fun. I'm not saying I enjoy your personality, not that I'm much different, I enjoy a good mass homocide at times as well, but you keep pushing me to use more and more of my tricks. Well, either that, or I'm just too eager to hold back. So, as my form of a thank you, let me show you a neat trick I picked up."

A mass of tendrils began to writhe around his right arm, and when they receeded, the sight shocked even the sand beast. It looked a lot like a spine, it was still as long and thick as his arm used to be, but it was now all black, and had small, silver blades protruding all along its length, probably three inches long and a half-inch wide, and in place of a hand, it held one blade that was as big as his hand was, wickedly sharp, and wickedly deadly. Giving his own insane grin he swung his arm at Gaara, and the odd thing was it seemed to extend to a length that should have been impossible for it. He jumped out of the way, but saw what the arm had done. It had smashed into the main trunk of the tree he was previously in and had seemed to pierce nearly six inches into the trunk. Naruto gave one of his familiar insane grins and said, "I call this, the Whipfist."

Eyes widening, he thought quickly that he should, by no means let that thing hit him. After that the two had started an intricate dance of extending limbs, each one trying to crush/slice the other. But for Naruto this was merely a distraction. He made several sealless Shadow Clones and made them hide in trees near the location of where he was trying to force Gaara to go. To his satisfaction it worked, he made one last swing with his whipfist and forced Gaara to jump back. Smirking he jumped several yards back trying to put a fair bit of distance between him and his opponent. Gaara merely looked on in confusion, until he felt several things wrap around him. Looking around him he noticed around twelve Naruto's launching their own whipfists at him, wrapping around him rather than actually stabbing or smashing him. The clones then made their own evil smirks that scared even Gaara. Each of them then said one, single word that made Gaara's eyes widen, "BOOM!"

Naruto looked on with an amused smirk as he saw several large explosions going off around Gaara. As smoke clouded his vision he made to make his way towards Gaara and see if he could fix his little sleeping/bloodlust/fucked-up-voices-in-his-head problem before he felt a massive spike of a very powerful chakra. His smirk faded his eyes widened and he started to say, "Oh fu-," before he was cut off by multiple massive waves of sand rising off of the ground and collecting in one location, creating a giant mass of sand, which started to shift and change itself until it was something you wouldn't believe existed. It was a massive, sandy-brown colored tanuki, with dark blue markings all over its face, body, and tail. It had a jagged concave mouth and its eyes were black and empty, just like the deep, dark void. And on top of its head, was Gaara, no longer looking like the sand beast, submerged up to his waist in the sand on top of the massive creature's head.

Naruto's disposition immediately changed upon seeing the massive being in front of him. The insane glimmer in his eyes died out completely, his posture became more gaurded, ready to either attack or defend, and his gaze became more strict and serious. He looked up as he heard Gaara yell out, with his voice still sounding demonic, "DON'T YOU REMEMBER UZUMAKI, I SAID I WAS GOING TO GIVE YOUR BLOOD TO MOTHER, NO MATTER THE COST!" Letting out one last insane cackle, he placed his hands in a ram handsign and screamed, "FEIGNING SLEEP JUTSU!" With that the grin fell off his face, his eyes became pure white, no pupil, no irides, just pure, empty white. The opposite could be said about the giant sand beast, the sclera were still pure black, but it gained yellow irides with pupils in the form of a black four-pointed star with four black dots surrounding it.

All was silent for a moment, before the beast yelled out, "WOOHOO, I'M FREE, FINALLY FREE," it looked down briefly, gazing at the black-clad Uzumaki glaring at him, "AND HERE'S SOMEONE I WANNA KILL. AND HE'S KURAMA'S VESSEL TOO. THIS IS JUST MY LUCKY DAY, I GAIN FREEDOM, AND I GET TO SMASH KURAMA AND HIS LITTLE PET TO PASTE!"

Naruto let out a low growl and yelled out, "SHUKAKU, I'm giving you just one warning, get back in the seal and I won't force you back in there!"

Shukaku merely passed it off as nothing more than the human trying to bullshit him and inhaled deeply before smashing its stomach with its right paw and yelled out, FUTON: DRILLING AIR BULLET!" The massive bullet of wind chakra began to carve its path through the forest in the Uzumaki's direction. Eyes widening, Naruto began to sprint madly away from the Futon jutsu, a strange red smoke trailing behind his form as he ran. Seeing a large boulder rooted in the ground, he quickly jumped behind it as the giant bullet crashed into the rock, creating a massive shockwave.

Shukaku looked down at the path of destruction his jutsu caused and noticed that the Uzumaki was still alive. Shukaku then picked up several trees in its massive palm and flung them towards the Uzumaki.

Naruto, looking out from behind the boulder, saw the massive amount of trees Shukaku chucked at him. Steeling his nerves, he jumped out from behind the boulder and flung his whipfist at one of the approaching trees and had the claw hook onto it. Jumping into the air he allowed the arm to retract, dragging him to the tree. Landing on the still flying tree, he wrapped his arm around it and hopped down from it, and with one mighty toss he released his hold on the tree, propelling it towards Shukaku, more specifically his eye. The tree planted itself firmly in Shukaku's cornea, yet Shukaku only -much to Naruto's displeasure- laughed as though it had felt nothing.

Naruto cursed to himself. Taking advantage of Shukaku's laughter he quickly jumped behind the boulder once more. Taking a moment to steady his nerves he decided he needed a bit of help dealing with Shukaku, and what better help than from the tanuki's brother.

'Hey Hairball, I need a bit of help here.'

Kurama shifted himself in the seal, sighed, and asked, "What do you need now Meatbag?"

'I just planted a tree in Shukaku's eye and it did nothing. Is this thing capable of feeling pain?'

"Not really, this is a sand construct of Shukaku feeding off of his vessels psyche, in short it feels no pain. But the threat doesn't stop there, as I said, he's feeding off of his vessels psyche, if he's not stopped soon enough then he'll completely consume his vessel, and finally be free."

'Shit, how do I stop it then?'

"You see his vessel on top of his head? You need to wake him up, if he's conscious then Shukaku can't feed of off his psyche. I'd say one good clock on the noggin' should do it."

'Well, it's worth a shot.' Steeling his nerves, Naruto jumped out once more and charged towards the giant tanuki. Shukaku tried to halt the jinchuriki's progress by more simple means since he didn't yet have access to all of his power, so he did what he could to halt the boy's progress. He sent out waves of sand, tossed more trees, and used more air bullets, alas they all failed. If he used the sand he would just use that palm technique of his to blow them away, and if he used the trees or bullets he would just dodge them by jumping or rolling around them. In one last desperate attempt he lifted up his right paw and made to smash the Uzumaki into paste. However the Uzumaki used this to his full advantage, with all of his leg strength, he propelled himself backwards as the paw came down. Taking advantage of this he used his whipfist once more, strecthing it much farther than before and having it anchor itself on Shukaku's right shoulder and drag him up to the top.

Landing firmly on Shukaku's shoulder Naruto looked at the unconcious form of Gaara. Naruto scowled, he didn't want to resort to using the whipfist on Gaara, after all the thing was covered in blades, it could really hurt the guy. But seeing as Shukaku could control sand, and his body was made of the aforementioned material, trying to charge at him would probably end with him trapped in Shukaku's belly for eternity, so he made his choice. Jumping up into the air, he launched his arm at Gaara, but he twisted at the last moment so that flat of the blade on the end only slapped him, hard. Gaara seemed to gain some form of consciousness back, his eyes were still white, and he wasn't really saying anything. As Gaara began to make the ram seal again, Naruto made one last swing with his arm, slapping the Suna jinchuriki back into the waking world. As Shukaku's form began to crumble he heard the tanuki demon yell out, "NOOOO! NO WAY, I JUST GOT HERE! DAMN YOU UZUMAKI, IF I EVER SEE YOU AGAIN, I'LL CRUSH YOU UNTIL THERE'S NOT EVEN DUST LEFT!"

With that, Shukaku began to crumble back into sand. Gaara began to fall but righted himself at the last moment and landed on top of a nearby tree. Naruto too landed on a nearby tree and shifted his arm back to normal and noticed Gaara glaring at him. Gaara yelled out, "No, no, I won't die here! I will never cease to exist!"

As he finished, he lunged at Naruto who merely glared at him and lunged as well. The two met in midair, Gaara landed one blow to the side of Naruto's face, and Naruto planted his fist firmly in Gaara's stomach, causing Gaara to cough up blood. The two then fell back down to the sand covered Terra Firma, Gaara flat on his back, and Naruto on his own two feet. As Gaara began to struggle to get back up he felt a hand grasp his throat with an iron grip. Looking down at his captor he saw Naruto glaring directly at him. He began to struggle but Naruto lowered him slightly before punching him square in the stomach, then once on each side of his face. Naruto then looked Gaara square in the eye and said, "I'm doing this to help you Gaara. So let me in."

With that said Naruto grasped Gaara's forehead as black and red chakra surrounded his hand and Gaara's head. And the two then felt themselves fall into their respective mindscapes.

In Naruto's Mindscape:

Naruto woke up on the floor of his sewer of a mindscape. Getting up he looked around to get his he was once more in front of his tenant's cage. Inside the cage was the mightiest of the Biju, Kurama, the Kyuubi no Yoko, sleeping soundly. Looking around Naruto spotted something out of the ordinary, a door. The door looked to be made of sandstone, and was ten feet in height, and six feet in width. Walking towards the door he saw no handle so he pushed and saw nothing but darkness beyond it. Gazing into the darkness he heard what sounded like a raging sandstorm. Making his choice, he walked into the darkness.

Gaara's Mindscape:

As sight returned to him, Naruto began to look around the inside of the mindscape, he saw it was very different than his own. For one it wasn't a sewer. It was definitely dark like his, that was for sure, Hell if you looked all around you'd see nothing but darkness all around you. The darkness seemed to act like some sort of wall of the mindscape. Inside the darkness though, was Shukaku's prison. Inside it was like a desert, sand, sand, sand, and, oh look, more sand, all blowing around in all directions, one big sandstorm. Looking closely, Naruto saw what he was looking for, Shukaku himself, even in here he screamed for his blood, and the blood of all beings be spilled. Shukaku's bondage was clearly less than that of most other Biju, the only thing that seemed to hold him back were two chains, one big chain that wrapped around his neck that attached to a ring on the dark wall, and one small chain that seemed to be attached to a kunai with a seal tag on it on top of his head that stretched to the top of the large ring on the wall. To Naruto the small chain just screamed, "I don't belong here!"

As quitely as he could, he moved as quickly as he could along the circumfrence of the wall, trying to avoid Shukaku's sight. After several minutes he began to get close to the ring, as he was about to start dashing up the side of the wall, he heard something suspicious, he heard another voice here. He noticed whatever Shukaku was saying, was nothing more than a repeat of whatever the other voice was saying. He needed to check this out. He began to dash up the side of the darkness, up to the ring which restrained Shukaku.

With every step he took towards the ring which restrained Shukaku, he heard the voice grow louder and stronger. As he reached the ring he leapt onto the top of the ring and saw something he wish he hadn't. He saw a man yelling out cries of wanting blood and suffering, and the man looked about as appealing as what he was saying. He seemed to be garbed in a long tan robe that resembled a monk's, with a long chain of prayer beads wrapping around his right shoulder to his left thigh. He seemed to be very lanky in appearance, little more than skin and bones, with very wrinkled skin that was lightly tanned. And his facial features were just as appealing, his hair was white and wild, sticking up in nearly every direction and sand falling out of it with every movement. He had large black bags around his teal colored eyes. The rest of his features were thin and scarred up as though he had went through a meat grinder. But the most interesting feature was the thin chain wrapped around his neck, the same thin chain connected to Shukaku.

The elderly man looked at Naruto, gave an insane grin, and screamed out, "You're here Uzumaki, so nice of you to just offer yourself to me and my pet," gesturing to Shukaku at the last part.

Naruto scowled at the old man and asked, "Who in the nine Hells are you?"

"I'm Shukaku the Sand Priest, not to be confused with Shukaku the Ichibi," Naruto nodded to himself at this, now he understood why some people thought that a corrupt priest was sealed inside of Gaara, and not the Biju, "but that's not the point here. The point is that you've come to freely sacrifice yourself to me, so rare, no one lets me kill them, but not you. Thank you for being so compliant."

Sand started to rise up from the floor of the mindscape around Naruto. Naruto wasn't as compliant as Shukaku thought though, as the sand neared him he quickly pounded his fists together causing the sand to disperse. Naruto, ingnoring Shukaku's scowl, said, "Sorry, well not really, but I'm not here to die, I'm here to fix up the little insomnia problem that the Ichibi's jinchuriki have been having. And I can tell it's you that's causing it, so If you'll just be compliant, I can make your journey to Hell all the easier."

Shukaku sneered at Naruto and started saying, "And why would I leave here, because of my seal I needn't bind myself to the mortal coil as all other beings do. Because of my bindings I'm immortal, and I control Shukaku, I have what every mortal dreams of, eternal life and power. Why would I ever give this up?"

Naruto sighed and said, "Well you can't say I didn't give you a choice."

Shukaku raised up his hand and directed the sand to attack the black-haired Uzumaki. Naruto once more pounded his fists together, dispersing the sand. "You know, I gave you the option of the easy way, but now I see I have to do it the hard way." Shukaku once more raised the sand to form a dome around Naruto. He made to crush the dome, but was halted when Naruto used a quick, but large, burst of chakra to blow both the sand and Shukaku backwards. As Shukaku struggled to get up, Naruto picked up the slack chain and pulled Shukaku towards him. Glaring at Shukaku, Naruto asked, "So, this is what you use to control Shukaku and bind your soul to his essence? I wonder what would happen If I, oh, I don't know, broke it."

Shukaku's eye widened as he yelled out, "No, please don't."

Naruto tossed Shukaku onto the ground and grabbed the chain and pulled as hard as he could, removing the kunai from Shukaku's head, causing the Biju to scream out in joy as it finally gained some measure of freedom. Scowling down at the sand priest Naruto pulled the kunai towards himself and examined the seal, he hated the sand priest, but he had to admit, he knew how to make a good seal. Ignoring Shukaku's groveling, he ripped the tag to pieces, and from the chain surrounding the sand priests neck a bright light filled the seal.

The Real World... You know that place we all hate, hence why we spend all our time reading/writing fanfiction... Ehem, back to the story:

Gaara screamed in pain as a bright white light burst out from between him and Naruto propelling them away from each other. Naruto shook the cobwebs out of his head as he got up, seeing that Gaara was writhing in pain as a seal array started to glow white along the area of his stomach he rushed towards Gaara and picked him up by his neck. Looking at the seal, he charged his black and red chakra into his hand and dug his fingers into the seal. Pulling as hard as he could a figure started to appear in Naruto's hand, with one last yank he pulled the figure out and onto the ground as he let go of Gaara. The figure started to take shape until it took the form of the sand priest. The crazed priest looked down at the ground eyes wide in shock he said in disbelief, "No, no, this can't be, I can't be human again. I just can't be."

He was so consumed by his disbelief that he didn't even notice Naruto walking up to him until he was roughly grabbed by his neck and hoisted up into the air. Naruto looked at the helpless priest with an amused smirk and said, "Hehe, you're not from Konoha so you don't know, but for an Uzumaki the word 'impossible' is just that, a word. Just like how two minutes ago you thought it was impossible for you to die, and yet now I'm gonna kill you, irony's funny like that huh?"

Smirking an evil smirk he threw Shukaku onto the ground and crushed Shukaku's head with his boot. As Shukaku's head was crushed, tendrils sprung from Naruto's body and wrapped around the deceased sand priests body. As the tendrils receded back to their master, Shukaku's form began to shift into the same material as the tendrils, it too receding into the Uzumaki's body. Naruto gripped his head in pain as memories of Shukaku's life filled his head, when he first had the Biju sealed within him, when he first started his monk training, his descent into insanity due to the power he held, and then his pursuit for immorality through tying himself to his Biju. He also felt some of the hosts remnant Biju chakra start to flow into his system, restoring some of the energy he used in the fight.

Recovering from the overload of information he looked towards Gaara and saw him crawling away from him. He didn't make any attempts to move towards Gaara, but merely stood there and said, "You should know, I get where you're coming from with all this kill others to prove your existence sort of thing," Gaara stopped his escape upon hearing this, "I'm a vessel like you after all, we're rarely treated like humans, hell we're usually lucky if people treat us like a plague." Looking down with a hint of hurt in his eyes he continued, "But the reason I didn't become entirely like you are now, was because, despite all the people who hated me, there were still those who cared about me, like the old man Hokage, and Teuchi and Ayame. It's because of people like them I still hold some semblance of sanity, it's because of them I'm still at least partially human."

"Well, not all of us can have what you have," Gaara said with a mixture of envy and anger in his voice.

Naruto shook his head and looked into the treeline and called out, "I know you're there, you can come out now." As he said this Temari and Kankuro came out from their respective hiding places, each of them still holding a kunai, ready to kill Naruto if he made another move against Gaara. Naruto looked back to Gaara and said, "They're willing to try and take me down if I try to kill you. And they saw me take down a giant tanuki demon, and crush a man's skull with my foot, that sounds like love to me." Gaara looked at his siblings with a hint of surprise, here were people who had feared him all his life, and if the man they knew for a fact could kill them with literally a flick of his wrist, tried to harm him, they would try to kill him to make sure he lived. Naruto resumed his speech, "They do love you, they were just a bit afraid of you going batshit on them like you did to everyone else, and now that you can actually sleep, and the voices telling you to kill things won't be as loud, then maybe you guys can start to build up your relationship. Now I suggest you guys get outta here while you can, I can't imagine too many of the shinobi in Konoha will be willing to look at a Suna shinobi with kind eyes. And Gaara, get some sleep, I'd say you have around thirteen years of catching up to do."

Temari looked at the man who was sparing their lives for a few seconds before a growing suspicion forced her to ask, "You said they kept you partially human, so what are you?"

Naruto looked back at them, this time no smirk, no snicker, no insanity, no emotion at all, and replied simply, "Something less than human, but something more, something far, far more."

With that he turned in the direction of his village and began the trek home. The Suna siblings decided that they would take his advice and do the same. Temari and Kankuro got on either side of Gaara and slung one of his arms over their shoulders and picked him up. With that they too began their journey home. When they were several yards away Gaara, who had remained silent so far, had spoken up and said, "Kankuro, Temari, I'm sorry."

The two looked at each other, surprise etched on their faces, neither spoke until Kankuro said, "It's alright Gaara, a lot of things have changed, and maybe they're changing for the better."

Temari nodded in agreement and said, "Yeah Gaara, if anything we're the ones to blame, we didn't make as much of an effort as we could. But like Kankuro said, things are about to change."

And for the first time in their lives they saw their little brother have some sort of peace fall over him before he entered sleep's gentle embrace for the first time. For the rest of the journey they were silent, but one thought came to all three of their minds constantly, 'Thank you, Naruto Uzumaki.'