Meet Team Sand
Chapter 5: Meet Team Sand
Gaara walked into the Sand Village (yup, we don't start at a training field anymore - now it's the Sand village) and was quickly greeted by his brother Kankurō. Kankurō was holding a sock puppet that he had named Socko. He considered himself the master of sock puppets and often talked through Socko.
Kankurō could see the frown on his brother's face, and though it wasn't very uncommon (Gaara was Gaara, after all), Kankurō cocked Socko's head to the side and said, "Socko wants to know what's wrong, Gaara."
Gaara sighed. "Socko, Kankurō, why does everyone hate me? All I want is to make one friend. Then I'll be happy."
"Socko says it's because you're like the ugly duckling - you know, before he went psycho and found that gun and shot everyone that called him ugly," Kankurō answered practically.
"I thought the ugly duckling became a beautiful swan," Gaara said.
Kankurō laughed. "Socko says that's the version adults tell their kids. Seriously, how often do you see an ugly duckling turning into a swan? It's just not realistic."
"No, it's not!" Neji agreed, randomly appearing.
"Well, how often do you see an ugly duckling finding a gun and killing other ducks?" Gaara argued.
"Touché!" said Neji.
"Socko says shut up!" Kankurō growled.
Gaara walked away. He loved his brother to death (almost literally sometimes); but when it came to comfort, Kankurō wasn't good at it at all, and neither was Socko. He wanted to go see his older sister Temari, but she was too busy fanning herself.
She was always freaking out, saying it was too hot. One would think that since she lived in the hottest village of them all, she'd be use to it; but no, she still carried that giant fan with her. Even on cold days, she would insist on turning up the AC. So Gaara, scared and alone, made a decision. He was going to visit the Leaf Village in hopes of making his first friend. The Leaf Village didn't fear him; at least, Gaara hoped they wouldn't.
As soon as he entered the gates, he was spotted by a blond-haired boy, an emo boy, and an annoying pink-haired girl. (Oh, yeah, and Kakashi.) Today the team had been assigned to guard duty. It was their job to watch over the village and make sure no one tried to attack the Leaf.
"Hi, I'm Gaara." Gaara tried to shake hands with Naruto, but Naruto screamed.
"It's a ginger! Believe it!" Naruto shouted, freaking out. He ducked to hide behind Sasuke, who simply stood there calmly.
"Sorry. We apologize for Naruto's behavior," Kakashi told Gaara. "He's trying to act twice as stupid today to make up for not being in the last chapter."
"Nuh-uh!" Naruto retorted. "But seriously, why wasn't I in the last chapter?"
Kakashi rolled his eyes. "If you want, we can all make blond jokes as payback. It's pretty fun. Just change the blond in the joke to Naruto. He hates it."
Sasuke smirked and started it off by saying, "Okay, so a dumb Naruto was really tired of getting made fun of because of his hair color, so he decided he would dye his hair brown. Once that was done, he drove out into the country. After he'd been driving for a while, he saw Kiba and a flock of sheep and thought, 'Oh, those sheep are so adorable! Believe it!' He got out of his car, walked over to Kiba, and said, 'Hey, if I can guess how many sheep you have, can I take one home? Believe it!' Kiba, being a bit of a gambler himself, said he could have a try. So Naruto looked at the flock and guessed, 'One hundred and fifty-seven - believe it!' Kiba was amazed; Naruto had guessed right! So the once-blond kid picked up an animal and got back into his car. However, before he could leave, Kiba walked up to him and said, 'If I can guess the real color of your hair, can I have my dog back?'"
Sasuke laughed hysterically at his joke, while the others just looked at him.
"What's a car?" Sakura asked blankly.
Gaara nodded, silently echoing the question.
"Sasuke," Kakashi chided. "You don't tell the jokes for this chapter! Your only job in this series is dying."
No sooner had Kakashi said that than Sasuke was sucked into the ground by quicksand, which oddly enough had not been there a few seconds ago.
"Well, there goes Sasuke," Kakashi stated cheerfully.
"Huh?" Gaara asked.
"There is a part in every chapter when Sasuke dies. You're a new character, but don't worry. You'll catch on quickly," Sakura explained. "Anyways, welcome to the group."
Gaara smiled slightly. "Thanks, and your name is?"
"I'm Sakura Haruno. I take it that you're Gaara of the Sand?" Sakura asked.
Gaara nodded. "Sakura, will you be my first friend?"
Sakura smiled. "Sure, I'd love to!"
The two looked over at Naruto still crouched on the ground nearby the quicksand. Naruto pointed a finger at Gaara.
"Stay away! I don't know if it's your hair or what, but there is definitely something seriously wrong with you! Believe it!" Naruto shouted.
Sakura rolled her eyes. "Ignore him. Naruto's weird."
"I'm serious, Sakura! That kid gives me a bad vibe! Believe it!" Naruto shouted, but Sakura and Gaara ignored him and walked away.
The guy and girl arrived at Ichiraku Ramen and were greeted by the friendly shop owner.
"Good afternoon, Sakura. Who's your friend?" he asked nosily.
"This is Gaara of the Sand. He's a new friend of mine from a foreign country," Sakura explained.
"He is?" Teuchi, the owner asked. "Does he have an accent?"
Gaara nodded and asked in his normal voice, "I can do any accent you wish. Just name one."
Gaara cleared his throat and began speaking in an Australian accent. "G'day mate. Careful where ya step; it's raining dingoes t'day."
Teuchi clapped his hands excitedly. "That was brilliant! Can you do English?"
Gaara cleared his throat again and sure enough started speaking in a perfect English accent. "I'll take another spot o' tea with my crumpets."
"Wow! This guy is amazing!" Teuchi cheered. "You're my new favorite customer! From this day on, all your meals here are free!"
Teuchi then proceeded to pull out a camera, taking a picture of Gaara and hanging it up on the wall overtop of a photo of Naruto.
An anime producer (who had been conveniently sitting in Ichiraku beside Sakura and Gaara) extended his hand for Gaara to shake.
"I'm an anime producer, and I want to turn your life into an anime. We'll call it Gaara, and in just a matter of time, we'll be number one in Japan!" the producer said.
"Wait, isn't Naruto already number one in Japan?" Sakura asked.
"It is! But Gaara will be better! Naruto will be number two! It's all about Gaara now!" the producer explained.
For the first time ever, Gaara smiled. He wasn't sure how it had happened so quickly, but his life had changed from terrible to almost perfect. Naruto watched this scene from the distance and began to tear up a little. Gaara had stolen his crush, his favorite hangout spot, and his anime. What was Gaara planning to take from him next?
Sakura and Gaara walked to the park together. When they arrived, they were greeted by Chōji and Ino, who were sitting together under a tree. Shikamaru was also there, but he was asleep.
"Who's your friend?" Ino asked curiously.
"This is Gaara," Sakura said. Gaara forced a smile on his face and waved.
Ino smiled wide. "Wait, does that mean you two are dating? Does that mean Sasuke can be my boyfriend?" she asked excitedly.
"We're not dating!" Sakura retorted. She looked over at Gaara. His face was now as red as his hair. "Look at that, you embarrassed him!" she said.
Ino giggled. "I think he likes you."
Chōji laughed. "His love for you is stronger than my love for BBQ!"
Sakura noticed that Gaara didn't argue. Could this be true? But the two hardly knew each other. She wasn't even sure how she felt about him. Gaara seemed like such a sweet boy though. Naruto was wrong; there was nothing wrong with Gaara.
"Shut up, guys!" Sakura reached out and took Gaara's hand. "Come on, let's get out of here," she said, and Gaara obeyed.
Ino stuck her tongue out and watched as Sakura and Gaara walked away together. Chōji was about to yell something to embarrass the two, but he remembered he had an unfinished bag of chips on his lap and soon completely lost interest in the couple.
About an hour had passed since Sakura and Gaara had talked with Ino and Chōji. The two now hung out in a slightly more private part of town and talked with each other. Neither of the two mentioned their conversation with Ino. They just tried to go on as if nothing had happened.
"So what's your family like?" Sakura prompted.
"They're... a little weird. My brother Kankurō always talks with his sock puppets. My sister Temari hates the heat but refuses to move out of the hottest village in the ninja world," Gaara explained.
Sakura laughed. "You've got to love family dysfunction."
Gaara laughed too. "Yeah. What's your family like?"
"Not sure. My family has never been seen in the series," Sakura explained.
"That's got to be awkward," Gaara teased.
"Yeah, but I know that I have parents because I constantly reference them in the earlier episodes!"
"True," Gaara said. "Maybe Masashi Kishimoto will introduce us to them sometime."
"I hope so," Sakura said.
There was a bit of an awkward silence, and then Gaara let out a sigh.
"Sakura, there's something about me I want to tell you; but I'm afraid that if I let you in on it, then you'll think I'm a monster like Naruto did."
"What is it?" Sakura asked, seeming concerned.
"A long time ago, this really powerful demon attacked my village and stole our cookies! An old lady named Chiyo fought it and sealed the demon's soul into me; because of that, everyone in my village fears and shuns me. Even my uncle who I thought loved me once tried to kill me," Gaara explained. He hid his face from Sakura because he didn't want to see her reaction.
Sakura reached out and took Gaara's hand. "Masashi Kishimoto is well known for giving us all elaborate and tragic back stories, but you don't have to worry. I don't think yours is that bad."
Gaara looked up. She seemed to be telling the truth. "Y-you mean you'll still be my friend?" he asked.
"Of course," Sakura replied, smiling. "If it makes you feel better, I could share my emotional back story too. That way you can see that you're not alone."
"I'd like that," Gaara said.
"Okay, but I should warn you, it's incredibly sad - maybe even more tragic than yours."
"I can handle it."
"Okay, it started during the Chūnin Exams. This one ninja grabbed me by the hair, so I tried to fight back, but she wouldn't let go. So do you know what I did?"
"What?" Gaara asked in awe.
Sakura sighed. "I took out a kunai and used it to cut my own hair. There were so many split ends! It was horrible!"
Gaara gasped. He looked like he was about to cry. "Wow, that's really sad," he said.
Sakura nodded solemnly. "It is, but you should know it has gotten better; and I'm sure life will get better for you, too. Who knows, maybe this is your turning point."
Gaara nodded and wiped some tears from his eyes. "You're right." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small object, but Sakura had trouble making out what it was. "Sorry, I bet my mascara is running all over. Excuse me for a minute while I put some on."
At this Sakura's jaw dropped. "Y-you wear mascara?" she asked, seeming frightened.
"Yeah. So?" Gaara asked.
"I-it's for girls! G-guys can't wear mascara!"
"Now, Sakura, don't be..." Gaara was cut off.
"You know what? This is probably what Naruto was talking about! You are a freak!"
-Phantom130 5 (August 2010)