Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

Author's Note: Not sure where this came from. Hammered it out in ten minutes.


Next to Nothing

It would take next to nothing to save her life. Her pitiful, useless life. Next to nothing, a flick of his wrist, a minute exertion of his own will, a simple desire and she would be saved.

Cowering on the ground, chakra spent and bleeding, he can smell her. Her fear is thick like coagulated blood, and she's drenched in it. She's quaking, legs collapsed beneath her, arms pulled to her chest in a macabre facilitation of an embrace. Violet eyes without the humanizing black dots of pupils are wide, impossibly stretched and her mouth is halfway ajar.

Above her, exuding hideous aura, a boy, more like a creature than a man, looms over her with the physical presence of a monstrous bear. Thick, charcoal black hair and pitiless yellow eyes, a mouth full of jagged, pointed teeth and fingers thick as her delicate wrists, he wears the headband of an Iwa-nin. A ninja of the Rock.

"Are you scared, little girl?" He leers at her, oozing closer to her with every step, hunger licking like burning coals in his eyes. Hunger of a more carnal nature. The hunger for the supple flesh of a young, frightened girl.

His experience of her terror is apart from himself. His dispassion is complete. Her life means nothing to him. However, even he cannot suppress a slight frisson of disgust at the man's obvious, lecherous, intent. Taking the life of a pathetic shinobi like her does not shake him, but the claiming of her dignity distasteful, even to himself.

She begs for mercy that will not come, and he watches her. And he could save her, he realizes. Her life, her dignity, her very being, is within his power to save.

The realization hits him like a hot effusion, rousing within him something he had thought he was no longer capable of feeling; turmoil. The only outward sign he gives to his inner twisting is a slight narrowing of his eyes.

The Rock-nin is upon her now, fat fingers outstretched to grasp her slender neck and bruise it. She's subsided into terrified whimpers, thick clumps of her own black hair stuck to her sweating, overstressed temples. Her hands are clenched so tightly into the fabric of her tan jacket, they shake. Unconsciously, she squeezes her legs tighter together, eyes shut, turning her face away from him. She seems to diminish in size, until she resembles a small child.

He could save her.

One flick of his wrist, and her whole life could be saved. And never before has he felt the weight of a whole life so completely. This is what surprises him so. With barely a gesture of power, she will remain undefiled; she will perhaps be happy once again, she will go unscarred. She may grow old, with many children and grandchildren. She may be happy.

Slowly, agonizingly slowly, he holds out one arm, hand half uncurled, pointer and index held together and he feels the sand begin to unspool inside the gourd. The cork dissolves and with barely a hiss, sand coils around his ankles like a faithful pet cat.

The Iwa-nin has her now, her thin neck held in one impossibly large hand, his other pawing filthily at her. She tries to pry his fingers from her neck, scrabbling against the iron grip. There are tears on her cheeks. The leer is still etched onto the creature's face as he leans in, breath putrid on her face and whispers something obscene. She gasps, and chokes a sob.

He watches from the underbrush, shaded from view by the dense cover of trees. The Iwa-nin is too preoccupied with his prize. She is too terrified. They do not notice him. His eyes narrow once again. He extends his whole palm, tilts it, and sweeps his arm to the side like the ringmaster of a circus.

Faster and easier than a reflex, the sand snaps away from him. The Iwa-nin's hand is a millimeter away from the waistband of her pants. The sand snags him by the ankles, wrists and neck. His hands are wrenched from her and he is hurled violently backward. His body connects forcefully with a tree, and the redhead watching feels a surge of savage pleasure when he feels bones break.

The girl with violet eyes, dropped by her attacker, falls to the hard ground. She lay, gasping and sobbing, her shoulders shaking, her whole body jerking. She's in shock. Stepping out from under the cover of the trees, the redhead's steps are measured and unhurried as he walks to her side. Standing over the sobbing girl, his face is impassive. His sand curls around his ankles again, like a cat seeking permission for a kill.

She does not speak to him, and he doubts whether she is fully aware of his presence. She's still shaking. She'd been made to feel helpless, truly helpless, for the first time in her life. She would recover from the shock, he knew, eventually. She was not fit to be a shinobi if she couldn't recover from something as trivial as this.

He thinks about asking her where her teammates are, for indeed he cannot sense anyone nearby. He decides against it. Behind him, he hears the groans of agony radiating off the broken Iwa-nin, and he feels the blood lust flare again.

Without turning, he twitches his wrist, and feels his sand wrap the man. For a moment, he holds his palm, open flat, outstretched, waiting a scant second before clenching his fist into a violent knot. The man is liquefied instantaneously, and Gaara can feel the blood seeping into his sand, adding to the already heavy load.

She's stopped fully sobbing now, subsiding into a quiet trembling, her legs curled together in what must be an uncomfortable contortion. Her arms are twined together, hands fisted underneath her chin and her whole body curls inwards like a ball. Her face is tucked tight against her twisted arms, and he can see only a sliver of blotchy, tear-stained cheek. Her eyes are still clamped shut.

He can still taste her fear on the air like syrup, but feels neither murderous intent nor pity for her.

But you saved her life, a little voice choruses in his head. The voice of Mother. The voice of Shukaku.

"Hn." He growls in response, voice gravelly in the back of his throat. So he had.

At this sound from him, he sees her visibly stiffen. She is obviously terrified of him, although how could she be? He doubted very much that she had even seen him. She'd kept her eyes shut the entire time.

Kill her, Mother urges.

Gaara ignores her. Instead, he calls the sand to him with a slight flourish, and forces it all back into the gourd, corking it. It lays, quiescent, satisfied with the killing of the Iwagakure shinobi. Mother is not so easily quenched, but he ignores Her blatant blood lust. He stares at the girl before him.

Her shaking has ceased, and the scent of her fear is dissipating. She's lost consciousness. His frown deepens. He had saved her life, but if he leaves her here the forest will kill her. The Forest of Death.

Her teammates approach, Mother informs him.

He lifts his gaze from the unconscious girl, eyes flicking in every direction, staring into the gloom as if he could see. He allows himself to feel outwards, the ground itself becoming a radar for him. Mother is right; he can feel the approach of two people. They are moving quickly, coming towards the clearing where the girl had fought the Iwa-nin, and he'd saved her life.

Kill them all, Mother urges him, stronger, more demanding, exerting Her furious presence over him, letting the heavy darkness of Her overwhelm him.

He grits his teeth, feeling the beginnings of a pounding headache. He slaps the heel of his hand to the kanji on his forehead, gripping hard. I will not, he fights back against Mother's blood lust.

Her teammates will protect her, Gaara decides, and if something should get to her in the minutes before they found her, it is not his concern. He does not care for this girl. She is next to nothing to him.

Why had he saved her?

He isn't sure.


Not sure if I want to continue. Let me know if you think I should keep going!