Wow! I haven't updated here in a long time! I started getting to the really good stuff. Take a look.
A boy walked alone in the desert. He was confused. How could someone who was like him still live for others? And how could he have still been so strong? Did that mean you could feel something for other people and still be strong? He retreated deeper and deeper into the questions.
Kankuro and Tamari watched as Gaara continued walking by himself. That blonde brat had certainly done a number on him, but that was no reason to brood like this. Had the kid said something to him? Tamari looked at her other brother. Kankuro shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t expect Gaara to share with him. The guy had never been one to show weakness.
That made his current state even more confusing. His brother, the cool killer, was walking around like he had amnesia or something. The two didn’t know what to do with him! So, they left him alone. Hopefully, he would come back to his senses once whatever that other kid had said was forgotten or figured out. So Temari and Kankuro headed in the direction of the village, thinking Gaara would catch up with them sooner or later.
By the time night fell, Temari and Kankuro were out of sight of both the village, and their brother. Gaara hadn’t traveled very far. He was still too confused by what the other boy had said. Strength from others? It didn’t make sense. He tripped on something, a pile of stones. It jerked him out of his thoughts as he used the sand to regain his balance and looked around. His siblings were nowhere in sight, it was getting dark, and… what was that line by the rising moon? Then he felt it. The wind was brushing his sand skin defense against him. The line, now a wall, was a sandstorm.
A sandstorm was the only thing Gaara was afraid of. The regular sand mixed in with his own, limiting control, and the wind could pick him up, shield and all, and toss him wherever it pleased. Calm down, he thought. You need to find shelter. He looked back at the pile of rocks. No, too small. But the terrain in this area was hilly. He should be able to take shelter in one of the shallow dips.
There! He jumped for a trench about two feet deep, pulled his scarf over his face, and tried to make a shield over himself out of the sand from his gourd. Then the storm hit.
His shield didn’t last three minutes. The regular sand and wind worked together to dilute the potent chakra mixed in and strip away layer after layer of protection. There were thumps in the sand all around him as the stones from the pile he’d tripped over earlier went flying in the wind. Then, BAM! Something hit the back of his head and Gaara lost consciousness.
When he came to, the first thing he did was look down. When he’d fallen into too deep a sleep before, he’d woken up in his sand form. But what he saw now terrified him even more. Because what he saw was nothing. He was blind. He tried to lift himself onto his elbows when something pushed him back down.
A voice said “Stop it. You’re hurt. Badly.” He stiffened. His heart rate increased, his breath coming in short gasps. He had never been so afraid. He was hurt, blind, with no sand shield, and at the mercy of some unknown person. Then a warm hand pressed against his face. “Relax. I’m here to help. Now open your mouth.”
He did, but to speak. “Who are you?”
“Don’t talk. Just drink.” She brought his head up slowly with one hand and poured something cool into his mouth. Water. He eagerly gulped it down. He tried opening his eyes again, but it didn’t make any difference. It was still all black.
Misa watched as the water took effect. The boy began to breathe deeper and relax his tensed muscles. He was lucky. If Misa hadn’t found him, he most certainly would have died from that head wound. Right, the head wound. She needed to get that clean and bandaged. But not here. Too great a chance of sand getting in and causing irritation. She ran over the surrounding terrain in her mind. There was a pebbly area not too far from here, and there was a waterhole sometimes. There had been some rain last week. She decided that the waterhole was their best bet. She turned back to the youth. “I need to take you to where there’s water so I can take care of your injuries. Can you walk?” He shook his head. “Then I’m going to pick you up.”
Gaara felt her arms slid underneath his back and knees. The girl-at least, it had been a girl’s voice- picked him up gently and cradled him against her chest. His head rested against her shoulder. Since his sand skin was gone, he could feel the soft fur on his cheek and the motion of muscle rippling underneath. Then there was wind in his face and ears, and the sound of footsteps in the sand. She raced away from the scattered stone pile. Neither one had any idea who the other was.
After what Gaara estimated to be about fifteen minutes the wind stopped blowing and the sounds became softer. She’d stopped running. Then she spoke again. Her voice was soft. “I’m going to put you down on your stomach so I can get a better look at the wound.” Misa laid the boy on a flat, smooth rock and headed for the waterhole. Yes! It was full, and clean to boot. She filled her water skin quickly and ran back to where she’d left him. She knelt down next to him. “You’re bleeding at the back of your head. I’m going to clean off the blood and bandage it, but it might sting a little.” She poured about half the water over the wound, took the end of her braid, and started scrubbing as gently as possible.
As the blood and dirt came away, she saw that the cut was small but deep, and surrounded by a massive bruise. What had happened? She began scrubbing his hair where the blood had matted it, revealing his hair color. It was a very beautiful red, like the color of coals when they’re perfect for cooking. His skin was pale by comparison, although that could have been from the blood loss. She got the worst of the dirt out of his hair and started talking again. “I’m going to lift your head so I can wind a bandage around it.” She slipped two spider web rolls out of her pack. She folded one into a thick wad and pressed it against the wound. She slipped the end of the other roll between her other hand and the wad so she could use her free hand to wind it around the boy’s head. He groaned.
She immediately stopped moving and said “What’s wrong?”
His reply was quiet, but not dry and raspy like his first words to her. The water had done its work well. “It’s making me dizzy.” Misa knew what was coming next. She yanked a spare bust roll out of her pack, unrolled it, and put it under the boy’s face just in time to catch the vomit. Once he was done, she bundled up the soiled wrap and tossed it aside. She could clean it later with some sand and water. Right now she had to finish.
“Tell me if you have to vomit again. I have to finish your bandage. After that, I want you to tell me what happened, okay?”
Gaara thought of nodding, remembered what had just happened, and said “Okay”.
After Misa finished with the bandaging, she turned Gaara back over and got a good look at his face. He was so handsome! His pale skin and coal-red hair were a great contrast, and his big green eyes set it off perfectly. The simplicity of the face let the colors take center stage, except for the black around his eyes. But that just made you notice them more. If only his hair wasn’t so messy, lying all over his face like that. Wait. He was staring right at her and hadn’t reacted to her animalistic appearance at all. Could it be that he wasn’t surprised by her looks?
“Who are you?” He said. Okay, that settled it. That knock to the head must have addled his brains. And if she was going to help this gem of a boy get his senses back she would need to know everything.
“That’s not important right now. You are. I need you to tell me how you got hurt.” Gaara didn’t know anything about this girl. Was she armed? A threat? Heck, was she even really a girl?
He told her everything, starting with his fight with Naruto.
Gaara finished telling what had happened to him. Misa was a little happy that the boy couldn’t see her right now. She was crying so hard that the fur below her eyes was a different color than the rest of her face. Her little brother had grown up so lonely and she hadn’t been able to do a thing about it. She would have hated them, if not for the fact that they had also helped him conquer it and he was now at least a competent ninja and had some good friends to look after him. In the end, the village had done right by him.
Gaara was a more immediate problem. The blindness had most likely been caused by the blow to the back of his head. It was a relief to know that that was the only injury, though. If he’d broken a leg or something it would have been a tough time trying to get him back to his village. The way he was now, it would take a while.
Gaara asked again, “Who are you?” She didn’t want to answer that she was “The Human Animal”. That seemed deceptive to her, and she wanted to be honest with this boy.
She answered, “Misa.” She started to get up from where she’d been sitting next to him. “I’m going to go wash off the shirt you barfed on. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes to check on you, and if you feel like it we can have something to eat.” She picked up the putrid bundles and headed for the water hole.
Gaara lay on the warm sand, thinking. Why on earth had he told her all that? He never told anyone anything, especially not things that would make him look weak. So why did he trust her, someone he didn’t know the first thing about, when he couldn’t even trust his own siblings?
Maybe it was because she probably didn’t know anything about him. If she had, she would have taken one look at his famous scar and black-rimmed eyes and run in the opposite direction. And of course, there was the small matter of her saving his life. But there was something else, something about her voice. Or was it her warmth? There was just something different about her, something different from everyone else.
He heard footsteps in the sand again. It seemed she was back. “How are you doing, Gaara?” Her voice, it had so many undertones and different sounds mixed in.
He stopped deciphering her voice long enough to answer. “I don’t get so dizzy when I try to move.”
“Good, because I want to get you in the water hole and washed up. Do you think you can walk a little?” In answer, he propped himself up on one elbow. There was a moment of dizziness, but not bad enough to make him vomit. He slowly sat upright, paused to let his head settle, and tried getting to his feet.
The world spun around him and a strong, slim hand grabbed his upper arm. The hand was warm, he could feel it even through the fabric. Her voice was warm too. “Take it easy. Hold onto me.” Her other hand took his and guided it around her waist and put it on her side. She must have been wearing a furry shirt. Then the hand that had been holding his arm slid down onto his waist and she slowly guided him to the right and down a small incline.
Misa had gotten him to the water, but this next part was going to be super embarrassing. Oh, well. Hopefully she could get him in the water fast. “You’re going to have to take off your clothes so I can wash you and check for more injuries. If sand gets in any cuts you might have, you could get an infection. I won’t look at… well, you know.”
It was then that the full implications of what had happened to his eyes hit him. If this went on, he would be at the mercy of others from now on. He would never know when someone was going to betray him or worse, kill him. He didn’t even have his sand shield anymore. How was he going to live like this. Gaara slid out of Misa’s arms, hunched down, and began to cry. “I can’t do this. I can’t live like this. I’d rather be dead than blind, then at least I wouldn’t be scared.”
Misa hunched down next to him. His sudden vulnerability reminded her of how she’d been the first time she’d been rejected, when Tsukushi had told her she was leaving. “It’s okay.” She rubbed the boy’s back, trying to comfort him. “You won’t be blind for long.” He turned his face towards her, the eyes full of frightened tears. “You’re blind right now because you got hit in the back of the head. There’s no damage to your eyes, so you should be back to normal once your head heals. I’ve seen this before. You’re going to be fine.” She put her hands on his arms and lifted him up until he was standing again. “Now get undressed so we can get you clean.”
She would have liked to turn her back, but the poor kid couldn’t see laces or buttons or anything. She ended up taking off almost all his clothes, although she left on his trunks. Since her clothes were all made out of hide, she didn’t have to worry about getting wet. She put her arm around his waist again, and led him into the water. It was warm, which helped to not freak him out the instant his foot hit it. Once she had him in the water, she took the end of her braid, wetted it thoroughly, and started scrubbing around Gaara’s neck and behind his ears. He was still a little wobbly, so she held him close to her body.
Gaara loved it. Her hair was so smooth compared to the course sand he usually covered himself with. It even tickled a little. He was still unsteady, so he leaned against her and let her scrub the sand out of his ears and hair and get the grime off his back. He wondered why he was enjoying this so much.
Once they were done, Misa spread out her bedroll so he could lie down and dry off in the sun while she washed his clothes. Once that was done, she hurriedly dressed him again. The bath had taken longer than she expected. The sky was already getting dark, and her closest home was about a kilometer away. There was no way Gaara would be able to walk that far. Guess I’ll have to carry him again. Maybe I can get him on my back this time so I can get more speed on all fours. She turned to the youth. “We have to get out of here before nightfall. There’s a cave nearby. Do you think you can walk, or should I carry you?”
The shaking hadn’t left his legs yet, but he didn’t want to rely on Misa-yes, that had been her name-any more than he already had. “I can walk if we take it slowly.”
“Well, we can’t, so you’ll have to get on.” She strapped her backpack onto her front and bent down in front of him. Then she remembered his eyes. She looked over her shoulder, grabbed his arms, and placed them around her neck. Once she felt his grip tighten, she slowly straightened and felt for his legs. Once she had a knee in the crook of each arm, she started running.
This was way better than the first time. Now the wind was fully in his face and he could hear more. He could hear her footfalls, but her panting too and even the squeaking of the backpack straps. The sand was releasing all the day’s heat into the air, making for a warm wind.
After about half an hour, the temperature suddenly dropped, and the sound of her footfalls changed. They were hard now, not like stepping through soft sand, more like hitting stone. She hunched down and let Gaara slide off her back, then said “This is where we’re staying tonight. Stay there and I’ll get you a blanket.”
This is where the gifts from the villagers really helped. Because so many of them had been camping supplies, Misa had taken to supplying her regular hideouts with full camping gear and even some provisions. This meant that if she ever lost her pack, or in this case, needed an extra of something, it was waiting and ready for her. She kept such a stash in this cave. She brought Gaara a blanket from the Mist Village and a bedroll from the Rain Village and set them up deeper inside the cave. It might not get the warm winds the front did, but it would be safer for him back there, and she didn’t want to risk the youth getting hurt. She decided not to get out dinner or start a fire. Gaara had been through a rough day, and would probably need sleep more than anything. She conked out.
Gaara didn’t sleep. He never did. Tonight, he thought instead. He thought about living for others, helping people, and this girl who had gained his trust without even trying. These thoughts were more than enough to keep him busy through the night.
When Misa woke up, she saw Gaara sitting at the mouth of the cave. She walked up and sat down next to him. “How’s your head?”
“Better.” Gaara replied. “I don’t get dizzy anymore.” He was sitting very still, with none of the unsteadiness he’d had yesterday. He recovered quickly, it seemed.
“How about your eyes?”
“Still can’t see anything, but I think the black is getting lighter.”
Gaara heard her weight shift as she stood up. “Do you think you can look after yourself for a while? I need to go get some breakfast.” The supplies in the cave were mostly dry biscuits, and Gaara needed better nutrients than those could supply. Besides, early morning was always the best time to hunt in the desert. Everything would still be out from their night roaming, but it would be light enough to get a decent sized catch. Once Gaara assured her that he would be fine, and after she coaxed him back into his bed to keep him from hurting himself, she set out in search of fuel and prey.
Without Gaara on her back, she made it to the water hole in about five minutes. She was in luck. A herd of something big had passed through last night, and the dung was already dry enough to handle. She scooped up the fuel, filled her water skin, and began looking around. The tracks of that herd were long gone, but there were others. One track in particular interested her. They were wolf pads, but more spread out than usual. That meant the wolf was sick, dangerously sick. She looked at the direction it had been heading and freaked. The paw prints overlapped her own. It was heading for the cave!
She had been so stupid! Why had she told him to get back in the bed?! His arms were pinned and if that wolf got in just one bite the boy wouldn’t stand a chance! Stupid! Stupid!! Stupid!!! She ran alongside the prints, making a third set of tracks along her earlier running and the wolf’s gait. She had to get there fast! The cliff came into view the same time she heard Gaara yell “Misa, is that you?” No, you idiot! You’ll give yourself away! She ran faster.
Three seconds later she saw the wolf. It was huge, grey, and had foam all around its lips. She’d been right. It was sick. She slipped one of the kunai out of her side pocket, leapt, and landed on the shaggy back right behind the head. One smashing blow and it was dead. She leapt off the creature’s back stormed into the cave, grabbed the boy by the shoulders and shook him. “You idiot! Never call out unless you know who it is! It’s too dangerous here! That thing could have killed you in three seconds and you told it exactly where you were!” She stopped shaking him. “Please, be more careful. I will call out to you when I’m getting close. No.” She thought for a second before finishing. “I’m not leaving you alone like that again. You won’t be alone again.” And she drew him into a hug.
After he’d called out, Gaara had heard the click of nails on the cave floor and knew that it wasn’t Misa. He’d also heard the thump and crash of her attack. So he had a vague idea of what had happened when she stormed into the cave. Her shouting and shaking convinced him. She’d been right, he’d let his guard down. Why had he done that? He never did that. What Misa said next answered his question. Softly, she said. “I’m not leaving you alone like that again. You won’t be alone again.” That was why he could let his guard down. There was someone else now, someone who could help and take care of him. So when she hugged him, he hugged her back.
They stayed like that for a few moments while Misa’s panicky anger ran out. She let go of him and said “I’m sorry I shook you. I was just worried about you, that’s all. Now stay here while I go check out the wolf.” The wolf had landed on its side. She kicked it onto its belly and examined the head. There was foam, but not too much, and the eyes weren’t bloodshot yet. It had been in the early stages of the sickness. That was good. It meant that, with a little cooking, the meat wouldn’t make them sick. She began getting out the dung and placing it in a teepee structure on the rocks in front of the cave mouth.
Gaara had made it to the mouth of the cave using the cave wall as a guide. He was staring in what he hoped was the right direction when all the sudden there was a patch of blackness that wasn’t so black anymore, more like a dark grey. “What did you just do?”
Misa held up the magnifying glass that had been one of her gifts. “I started a fire.”
“I could see it! I can still see it.”
“How exactly? Do you see colors, light, motion?”
“It’s just that the darkness in that one place isn’t as black as the rest.” Misa thought for a second. If this was only the second day, he really did recover fast. She had to get him back to his village before he completely recovered his sight. That way she could get him safely home without being unveiled. That she dreaded.
“Once I finished cooking the meat, we’ll cure the rest and head for your village. Which one is yours?”
Misa thought for a second. Sand Village was pretty far away, at least a week’s travel. And that was when she was running. Carrying Gaara would slow her down, but if he could walk maybe they could make good time. But once his eyes healed enough to tell colors apart, she would have to leave. Her telltale orange wouldn’t hide forever. So, it was to be a race, their progress against his eyes. She flipped over the meat to grill the other side.
It was the end of their second day of travel. The first day of travel had been hard on them both. Gaara still hadn’t gained enough strength or balance to set a good pace, so Misa carried him on her back. They stopped frequently to rest her arms. Her legs might be built for this sort of thing, but her arms weren’t. It was a good thing Gaara was so small. That day had tired her so that she went right to sleep after dinner, and making sure Gaara was safe and comfortable. His eyes had gotten better during that time. Now he could see a little movement. He described it as a shift in the dark grey.
He’d woken up the second day certain he could walk reasonably quickly on his own, and he’d been right. They had to slow their pace, but they covered about the same amount of distance as they had the previous day. After all, even if they were going slower, they didn’t have to stop for rest as often. Because she’d been walking at a third of her normal speed and hadn’t been burdened with the youth, Misa had plenty of energy after dinner this time. Once she thought Gaara was asleep, she brought out her guitar and started to play some of her favorite songs. She could have just listened to the recordings, but playing always soothed her heart in a way the recordings just couldn’t. She started with the first one she’d successfully put to guitar music. It was a song that, before discovering the changes made to her sense of direction, she’d hoped to sing to Naruto when she finally found him. (to the tune of May I)
And there you were, newly made, newly born.
Knowing naught not of the world and its thorns.
I was taken from you after one day.
But now I’m here and I have much to say.
Let me raise you up.
Let me be your love.
May I hold you
as you fall to sleep,
when the world is closing in
and you can't breathe.
May I love you.
May I be your shield.
When no one can be found
may I lay you down.
All I want is to keep you safe from the cold...
to give you all that your heart needs the most.
Let me raise you up
Let me be your love
May I hold you (hold you)
as you fall to sleep.
When the world is closing in
and you can't breathe,
may I love you. (love you)
May I be your shield.
When no one can be found,
may I lay you down.
All that's made me (made me)
Is all worth trading (worth trading)
just to have one moment with you.
So I will let go (will let go)
all that I know (that I know)
knowing that you're here with me.
For this love is changing me.
May I hold you
as you fall to sleep.
When the world is closing in
and you can't breathe,
may I love you.
May I be your shield.
when no one can be found
may I lay you down
Misa put down the guitar for a moment and mop her face. That song reminded her so badly of the pain in her chest that sometimes she wondered why she sang it. Then something brushed her shoulder.
It was Gaara. Unable to sleep, he’d crept up beside her and listened. Now, he asked, “Did you write that?” She nodded, afraid to speak. “Did you write it for someone?” She nodded again. “Who was he?”
There was silence for a little while, and finally Misa answered, her voice still cracking a little. “He was my brother. I wrote this song as a present for him, before I found out that I would never see him again. I think about him all the time.”
Gaara heard the sobs in her throat and hugged her around her shoulders. At that moment, she wasn’t the tough girl who’d fought off a wolf. She was someone who needed him. And as he held her and let her cry into his shoulder, something stirred in him that he thought he would never feel again.
Misa was grateful for his arms. It had been so long since she’d had someone else to talk to like this, to share things with. It felt so good to have someone care for her, the Human Animal, Caretaker of the World. She dropped her tough girl exterior and cried.
For the next nine days Gaara didn’t think about Sand, the test, or any of the things he’d been thinking about before. The only thing Gaara could think about was Misa. Her understanding, her kindness, singing, and, best of all, her laughter, on the few occasions he could manage to get some. He rejoiced every time his eyes got better. He was convinced that, if he got to see her face, it would be just like the rest of her. Lovable.
Misa was almost as single-minded. Even when she was hunting or breaking camp, her thoughts were with him. Did he like lizard? Should she set up his bed in the shade? Other thoughts were filled with the ways he had changed, how he smiled more, the way he seemed to follow her every move. But the changes also made her sad. When he followed her with his eyes it reminded her of how much of his vision he’d gotten back, how little time they still had left. If he saw what she was, who she was, how would he react? Her fear was almost paralyzing.
His vision came back in stages. One morning, Gaara would wake up to find that there were more shades in the grey. Another, he’d see outlines better. She hoped that color would be the last thing that returned. After ten days of travel, they were getting close to his village anyway. The number of caves and oasis had dropped, signaling that they were getting very close to the heart of the desert, where the village flourished despite the harsh conditions.
It was on the eleventh morning. Misa had been scouting around to try and determine how far away the village was in case she had to flee. She didn’t make much of a scout, depressed as she was from the thought of their time together coming to a close. She came back to their campsite as the sun was just peeping over the horizon. Gaara woke up from his light nap-those usually didn’t make him go Sand Style- and when he saw the dingy brown backpack Misa had left behind, realized that the color had come back to his sight. It was good as new now. He heard footsteps in the sand, knew who it was, and turned around for his first true sight of the girl who had come to mean so much to him.
She was breathtaking. The sunrise behind her accentuated the orange in what he knew was her fur, highlighted the red in her hair, and starkly outlined her strong, feminine figure. The so-called beauties of Sand paled in comparison. Then she knelt down beside him. Her eyes were like liquid gems, quiet and deep, but sparkling. The way her eyebrows creased when she was worried was adorable. And that fur, that beautiful fur brought out all the color of her eyes and lips ten times more brilliantly than even the darkest tan would have.
She opened her mouth-Her teeth were so white!- and said “How are your eyes?”
“Perfect.” She prepared to run. “You’re perfect.” She turned back. He was staring at her, but it wasn’t a stare that she’d seen before. It wasn’t fear. It wasn’t astonishment. It wasn’t disgust. It was… What was it?
Gaara propped himself up on one elbow, put his free hand behind the back of her head, and kissed her. That answered Misa’s question.
That was Misa’s first kiss. It was confusing, intoxicating, and angering at the same time. It was confusing because he’d just seen her face and had responded in love, not to mention the fact that he looked at least three years younger than her. How could someone so young be kissing her, let alone fallen in love with her?
She was intoxicated because, well, she returned his feelings. And what girl isn’t intoxicated at least a little by her first kiss, especially when it’s with someone you love deeply? It was her first experience with a romantic kind of love, which only increased the sensation.
She was angry because he’d waited until the day she had to return him to his village to show his feelings. Why hadn’t he done this sooner? She wanted to slap him and hug him at the same time. She decided to hug him, pulling him in close and relaxing when she felt his arms around her middle.
They were so close that Gaara could whisper directly into her ear when he said “Don’t make me go back to the village. Let me stay here with you.” He’d heard the stories too. If he couldn’t convince her to follow him into Sand, then he didn’t think Sand was worth leaving her.
But Misa whispered to him, “You have to go back. There are people there worried about you. You have a home and a family waiting for you.” She drew away from him. His eyes were so sad in that moment. She turned away and reached into her pack. “Here.” She thrust a package at him. “Don’t open it until you get back to the village. Come on.” She grabbed his hand and started pulling him in the direction of the village. She didn’t look at him.
When they could see the village, she stopped. “I can’t go any further.”
Gaara pleaded with her again. “Don’t make me go back there. Please! I don’t want to be alone again. It was bad enough the first time.”
She turned around and looked him straight in the eyes. She almost broke and let him stay with her, but then she thought of the slip of paper she’d found in the shrine that morning, begging her to find Gaara and bring him home. “Don’t say that. You won’t be alone.” She drew out the paper and let him read it. “See? They want you back.”
“Then, this is goodbye?”
“No, just ‘see you later’.” She kissed him on his forehead and ran off in the direction of their camp.
Gaara’s welcome into the village was a blur to him. He knew his siblings were there, that people were hugging him, and that ‘Human Animal’ was mentioned several times. But all he wanted to do was get back to his room so he could open her present to him. What had she given him?
He untied the strings and found a stack of paper and a book. On top was a letter that said only “Kiss the paper with strange markings.” He found the paper underneath the letter and stared at it. It was covered in circles, spirals, and weird writing. Well, what harm could it do? He kissed it.
It erupted into sound. At first it was indistinguishable, but words began to come out of the noise. Misa’s words. It was her voice, he was sure of it. “My dear Gaara, I know we cannot be together right now, But there will come a time when I can come home to be with you. Until then, use these recordings to stay in touch with me. If you make one following the instructions in the book I’ve given you, they will hold any spoken message or song you want me to hear. Leave it at the shrine outside the village. That’s where I’ll leave the ones I’ve made for you. I know it might be too late, but I love you.” His knees gave way. Loved him? “You liked the song I wrote for Naruto, so here’s one for you. I hope it helps.” Guitar music began streaming from the parchment. (to the tune of I’ll Come Back from Narnia.)
It started out as a feeling,
which then grew into a hope.
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word.
And then that word grew louder and louder
‘Til it was a battle cry.
I’ll come back when you call me.
No need to say goodbye.
Just because everything’s changing
Doesn’t mean it can’t be like this again.
All you can do is try to wait the storm out
And know you’re more than a friend.
Pick a star on the dark horizon
And know I share the light.
I’ll come back when you call me.
No need to say goodbye.
I’ll come back when you call me.
No need to say goodbye.
Now we’re at the beginning
It’s just a feeling and no one knows yet.
But just because they can’t feel it too
Doesn’t mean that you have to forget.
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
‘Til they’re before your eyes.
I’ll come back when you call me.
No need to say goodbye.
I’ll come back when you call me.
No need to say goodbye.
Temari got up from where she’d been listening through the crack underneath the door and locked gazes with Kankuro. He’d heard it all through the keyhole, and had even seen Gaara kiss the sheet of paper. What on earth had happened to him? He came back three days late, with no sand or even his gourd, looking like the world had just ended. Now he was kissing pieces of paper that sang. Granted, the song had been very nice, but still. It was beyond strange, and they couldn’t even hear what it had been before the music started. And who had that been, anyway? All the Sound Ninja they’d met were way too twisted to make something like that, and they were the only ones who could sing, as far as Temari and Kankuro knew.
Then they heard footsteps. Gaara had heard them. The two quickly camouflaged themselves, hoping that in his dispirited state he wouldn’t notice them like he usually would have. He passed right by them. Kankuro breathed a sigh of relief, but Temari was more confused than ever.
Why on earth did he look so happy? She’d never seen him with even the slightest hint of a smile, and here he was grinning for the entire world to see! Two seconds ago he’d looked more downcast than a mile high thundercloud. What was going on?
Kankuro made for the stairs, but Temari dragged him into Gaara’s room. He tried to pull away. “What are you doing? Do you know what’ll happen if he catches us in here? I wouldn’t be surprised if he killed us.”
She swung her brother around until she was facing him. “Look. Something happened to him out there, and it has to do with that sheet of paper.” She pointed to the piece with circles all over it. “Let’s see what we can find.” He tried to break away again, but his sister’s iron grip withstood his attempts. He resigned himself and started looking through the things Gaara had brought back with him.
Almost everything he’d had when they left him was still there, even though it had been very little to begin with. The only thing that was new was the package he’d taken the paper out of. Kankuro picked up the sheet Gaara had kissed. “Why don’t we just, I don’t know, turn this thing on?” Before Temari could stop him by saying that if Gaara heard that he would come running, Kankuro had already pressed the thing to his mouth.
Misa’a message repeated, along with the song. After the last “No need to say goodbye,” the two took their eyes off the sheet of paper and stared at each other.
Then someone behind them said, “Are you quite finished going through my things?” Gaara was standing in the doorway.
Kankuro looked at his sister. What do we do now?
She gave him a frantic look. I don’t know! Temari could feel him saying “Well, you got us into this mess, you fix it.”
She slowly turned around to face her demon of a younger brother. If looks could kill…His stare was certainly cold enough to freeze them both to death. She thought of coming up with a creative lie and then remembered that he’d always been able to see through her. Besides, the truth wasn’t that bad in this case. “I’m sorry, Gaara. You weren’t yourself when you came back, so we thought something might have happened. We thought we could find something out by looking through that package you had when you came back.” Kankuro was nodding enthusiastically from behind her shoulder.
To their surprise, he didn’t charge them or shoot sand at them. Instead, he sighed and said “Well, I suppose you would have found out sooner or later.” He began picking up the mess they made and putting it to rights.
Emboldened by his apparent lack of hostilities, Temari asked “Who is she?” Kankuro looked at her like she’d lost her mind. Are you crazy? You barely escaped death by sand coffin and now you’re prying in even more? She ignored him and focused on her younger brother instead.
Gaara gave up trying to remain silent. “Her name is Misa. She rescued me eleven days ago when I got hurt in a sandstorm. She helped heal me and brought me back here. Anything else you want?”
“Is she the Human Animal?” She had to step on Kankuro’s foot to keep him from saying how dangerous this questioning was.
“Yes. She’s even more beautiful than they say.” The faintest hint of a smile crept up onto his face as he remembered that first real glimpse of her.
Okay, she was certain. Honestly, of all the people to fall in love with… “You do realize you’ll never see her again?”
That brought him back to earth! The smile vanished faster than her fan closing. “Why?”
“An outsider like her? There’s no way she’d be let through the front gates, let alone get to see you again. She could be a spy, arsonist, assassin…There’s no way anyone would trust her.”
She was right and Gaara knew it. But he that didn’t mean he had to accept it. “Isn’t there a way? Some way to get people to trust her?”
Temari snorted. “You’d need at least an invitation from the Kazekage, but there’s no way that could happen.”
Wait. Kazekage? His mind was racing. We don’t have a Kazekage right now. The seat’s wide open. If I could…He turned to his siblings. “How do you become Kazekage?”
After surrendering Gaara back to the Sand Village, Misa wandered for a long time. She didn’t want to go back to Sand, not knowing what waited for her. She’d known from the beginning what Temari had said, that there was no way they could be together. So she put off going back as long as she could.
After three months had gone by, she finally decided she couldn’t avoid the subject anymore. She trudged back to Sand and went at night to the shrine to see if Gaara had left anything for her. She was also going to leave a song for him, explaining the situation in case he didn’t understand it himself. She thought that, the sooner he gave up on her, the sooner he could find someone else. So when she found a letter from him waiting for her, she ran to her hideout and kissed it.
My Beloved Misa,
I know why you didn’t come into the village with me when you left me here. It wasn’t because you were scared. It was because the village as it is now cannot accept you. If things stay the way they are, we won’t be able to be together. That’s why I’m going to change it. In a few months I’ll be eligible for Jounin tests. It’s possible to go straight from Genin to Jounin if you’re good enough. And I intend to be. I’m going to become Kazekage and change this village from the inside out so that, when I’m old enough and if you still love me, I can…
The recording paused. She listened, barely daring to breathe. What it said next made her cry to joy.
Can ask you to marry me.
Misa squealed so loudly that she almost missed the next part. Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! She wanted to scream it to the world. It was a good thing she didn’t though. Otherwise she wouldn’t have heard the next part, which was kind of important.
You can help my village too, by bolstering your reputation. There are dozens of stories about you all over the ninja world, but most of them are fairly mysterious. You always hide yourself, so no one knows you very well and people are a little afraid of you. If you can show yourself, make yourself accepted by more and more people, it will be easier for Sand to accept you.
His tone changed. He was pleading with her, but she could feel the hum of excitement in his voice.
Please! It’s asking a lot of you, I know, but I’ll be working hard too. Becoming Kazekage isn’t going to be easy. But if you’re willing to try, I am too. Don’t forget that I love you. Please give me a reply soon.
She quickly kissed the parchment to stop it, dived on top of her backpack, and furiously dug through it. She came up with a piece of paper, drew the seal on as fast as possible, kissed it so hard she nearly tore the paper, and said “The number of stories will triple in the next three months. I will be infamous by the time you make Jounin.”
She tore across the sands, rammed the piece of paper into the shrine, and ran as fast as possible in the direction of the nearest ninja village. Time to start making a name for herself.