Six months later

Far away, in a canyon surrounded by a desert, a small boy sat on top of a roof, overlooking his Hidden Village. Behind him, a body lay slumped against the door to the lower levels, dark blood pooling from beneath it. The cloth covering the assassin's face had been ripped away, and now the man's eyes were open and unseeing.

The small boy closed one eye as fresh blood dripped over his brow and slid down his cheek. His forehead burned, but it was nothing compared to the stabbing grief tearing through his chest. Hateful, pale green eyes looked down upon the village, and he felt a rumble deep in his gut, accompanied by a dark stirring sensation within him. It felt like power. And that feeling was far more welcome than the painful helplessness he was currently being forced to suffer.

He almost retreated into his mind. He almost delved into that place where the power originated. He'd never intentionally done so before, but now with his dead Uncle behind him, there was little else left to do.

Until a voice made him freeze.

"My, my, this is quite a mess."

The shock of having not noticed someone else there made his mind, and his grief, freeze for an instant. He slowly turned his tear stained face, swollen eyes wide in shock. He almost opened his mouth to speak, but his sand was faster, responding to his surprise and fear, and without his consent, it rushed forward to deal with the threat.

"Stop that," the voice requested, still soft, but now just the slightest bit scolding. The doubt registered, and his sand froze, reacting immediately to his uncertainty. Then the boy's eyes adjusted to the dim light and he saw a woman sitting on the ledge of the roof, her expression unreadable. Now he found that his voice did work.

"W-who're you?" he asked, his eyes haunted and suspicious. She looked like she was about to cross her arms, and then paused, as if remembering the empty sleeve hanging from her left shoulder, and instead leaned onto her one hand, her solemn gaze never leaving his.

"I was like you," she told him, before reaching out that hand. Wary, but also stunned by the implications in that sentence, he approached her in spite of himself. She leaned forward and poked him in the cheek, stopping him in his tracks. He blinked in confusion, and then his gaze moved down her waist to her hips.

He touched her leg, almost painstakingly gently, as if afraid she would lash out at him like most would after witnessing cold blooded murder, but she just watched him with amusement, her expression light and untroubled.

"Something's missing, isn't there?" she questioned quietly, the amusement bleeding into her voice. Then her fingers trailed from his cheek to his chest, where she poked his shirt right above his heart.

"Just like something's missing here." Her voice softened, and he noticed that her face was sad.

"Y-you saw," he mumbled, and then pushed her hand away, stumbling back. "You saw me hurt him! I didn't mean to! He thinks I'm… He thinks I'm…!" the boy trailed off for a moment, hesitating under her surprised expression at his sudden outburst.

"I'm a monster," he choked.

The woman stared at him.

"Are you calling me a monster, kid?" she asked. His eyes widened and he shook his head rapidly, angry tears forming in his eyes. Was the woman stupid? Was she deaf?

"No! Nobody hates you, I said me, not—!"

"I just told you I was like you, didn't I?" She frowned, swinging her one complete leg back and forth slowly. "It's rude to call anyone a monster, even yourself, y'know. Do you understand?"

He shook his head slowly.

"You don't hurt people with the sand," he whispered. She smiled then, and the expression was terrifying. He saw horrors in her dark gaze, and he hesitantly stepped back. The nasty voice inside his head, for once, was silent.

"No," she agreed. "I hurt people with other things. That doesn't make us monsters."

That was an ominous statement if he ever heard one, and the fear and exhaustion and frustration finally took over. He began to cry.

"Are you going to try to kill me, too?! I'll kill you! I… I won't let you! Stay away!" His sand began to swirl around his feet.

"Gaara, I'm not going to hurt you."

The sound of his name got his attention and stopped the tears in their tracks.

"W-wh… How do you know my name?" he asked, sniffling.

"It's my job to know my own family," came the skeptical reply. She hopped to the ground and sat, motioning for him to sit next to her. Still scrubbing at his eyes, he did so, and after a moment, curled up at her side, his head heavy in her lap as he sniffled, and began to cry himself to sleep. Her voice was soft as she leaned back and stared at the sky.

"We are cousins, after all."


"Mhm. Family. And it's about to get bigger."

She remembered a one eyed smile, obscured with a mask, and a little boy with bright blue eyes and a grin that could light up the entire world. She had to resist the urge to snort. She, Koizumi Kiruma, had a fiancée. What even. And she had a son. Kind of.

"A whole lot bigger," she sighed with a small smile. Because it would take a while, to find Salem's little sister, her surrogate son, and the others that she had failed in the past. The ones she hadn't been able to go back for, the ones that needed a family.

But she was going to find them, and she was going to bring them together, because that was what family was for, and she'd spent far too much of her life wishing she'd never had the one she'd been given.

It was something to be treasured, and now, to her, without war and death and blood and strife to interrupt and cloud her thoughts, it was everything.


A/N: A huge thank you to everyone that stuck with me throughout this hella long fic.

As promised, I have posted a second AMV for Fireborn, which is way better than the first, if I do say so myself (Which I do), so feel free to check it out. I will post a link in my profile, but if it doesn't work just search 'Fireborn AMV II' on youtube and it'll pop right up.

ALSO: I've already started my next story because I'm a horrible writing addict, so if you'd like to read about Itachi and his dorky shenanigans before he becomes all badass, go check out Sightless Renegade.

Again, everyone thank adoxy and may the heavens shine down on you all for being such great readers and constructive critics.

Happy Reading!