The Kazekage Hero
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or My Hero Academia.
Author's Notes: First I'd like to thank you all, so thanks a ton! I am beyond blown away at the response this story has received and with only one chapter. Gaara fans must be coming out of the woodwork or something, that's the only explanation I can figure.
Anyway, in the last chapter, I asked for recommendations for potential parent/s and a future love interest for Gaara. I was surprised by both, to be honest. First the love interests, there was such a variety of suggestions I thought one or two would at least dominate the others in how many times they were mentioned but nope! So, keep them coming boy or girl doesn't matter, I am sorry to the one person who asked but there will be no threesomes in this story. Another thing I wanted to ask early on to have some ideas but it will be a while before any romance for Gaara is brought into the story. They will become friends first so the romance is currently on the backburner and will eventually move to the slow one ;)
Now onto the potential parent/s there was less of them but I was shocked how many people wanted Endeavor, sorry but despite popular vote I want Gaara to have a happy/healthy parental figure/s this go around. However due to how many of you wanted that I have a surprise one-shot that will be going up sometime next week so look out for it then! As you guessed it it's got Endeavor taking in Gaara though it's set in a different universe than this story. I might one day make it into a full-length story but for now, this one gets to be the focus.
As for the other parents mentioned I truly did consider them, however, the main reason I didn't go with some was that they were young/single/pro-heroes. Now there's nothing wrong with that and I've seen others handle the hows/whys they would adopt but I felt like taking a different path that said I hope you all enjoy who I ended up going with and that I've not disappointed too many of you.
And finally, I should warn those of you anime onlys that may be reading that there will be spoilers for the manga in this story. Small at first but they may lead into bigger ones later on.
Happy Friday the 13th! And Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, I don't think I'll be posting the next chapter until the new year so have a good rest of the year everyone!
This is unbeta'd, therefore, all mistakes are mine.
Chapter 2: Gaara's First Fire
Gaara still hardly slept being in a new world didn't suddenly change that. It was too ingrained into him. Only now he couldn't use the time as productively as he had when he was the Kazekage or even as a ninja.
Now he mostly laid on his uncomfortable cot and thought about things, many things.
He had a lot of time to form theories and come to conclusions during the night.
When Gaara had first accepted that this was real, he was left to ponder how it had happened. Had he died? And was this some kind of reincarnation? He didn't think so otherwise why would he suddenly be three years old? If his memories had only just resurfaced why couldn't he recall a time before that night?
Where had those memories gone? Had he simply come into existence here at that moment? If so, how was it that the other children and even the caretakers knew of him? His name was still Gaara, only Gaara no surname.
He found that they had no records, he was merely another abandoned baby on their doorstep.
He felt like he was missing something, a lot of somethings most probably. And without the missing pieces, the picture would never be clear.
Thoughts ran around his head for several nights before he came to a conclusion: It didn't matter.
The 'how' wasn't important, the pale-eyed boy would likely never discover how or why it had happened. He only needed to make peace with the fact that it had.
It had taken him time once he'd come to that realization but the redhead had made his peace with it.
Something harder to accept was that the once-ninja would never see his family or friends ever again.
In time though he accepted that too.
There were other difficulties he faced, his new young body was one. It was a challenge and a chore to retrain but not only that, Gaara had never been one to care for his physical appearance. But the first time he saw his own reflection was startling.
His younger appearance was to be expected but his lack of a certain scar was something that he didn't know how to feel about.
Gaara had touched the part of his face that he had once so long ago scarred to remind himself of what 'love' had meant to him. Over time his feelings towards the emotion had changed and so to had his scar's meaning.
Only his scar was gone.
What did that mean?
Did it mean anything?
No, he didn't have to have proof of the love he felt for others and in turn the love they had shown him.
Even so, Gaara knew it would take some getting used to.
It was something else that the once-Kage was forced to accept, it should have been one of the more simple things.
Somehow it wasn't.
The orphanage was bustling that morning as a couple was coming to adopt. "Now let's see if we can get you clean and presentable," The redhead stood still as she attacked his face with a wet rag. Once Ma'am had moved onto another victim er- child he thought dryly. The once-Kage proceeded to dry his face off with his shirt's sleeve and rearranged his thin coat of sand back into place.
He felt vulnerable whenever he was without it even for mere seconds, it wasn't the most comfortable of feelings.
From there they had to line up in the main hall with the older boys, "They're interested in a boy but they didn't specify an age." He'd overheard one of the caretakers' gossip with a kitchen staff member.
"I'd say look sharp but that hardly matters, you all know that they're only interested in children with good quirks," Ma'am told them snidely.
The older boy beside him sighed, "She's not wrong..." He pushed his glasses futher up his nose as Gaara frowned at his words but didn't try and correct them. He'd witnessed first hand how the adoptions here happened. They didn't try and get the child to act like themselves or even just talk to the couple. No, they would push children at the adoptor who had as Ma'am said, good quirks and expect the child to perform like some kind of trained monkey.
The redhead wanted no part in it and whenever he was chosen he'd do nothing, the adults thought it was stage fright. It wasn't but it sure did feel like they put him on one, a stage that was.
Take Satoshi, for example, the boy could barely see without his glasses but he was smart all A student. His quirk wasn't anything extraordinary the tips of his fingers lit up, handy if you needed a bit of light at night to go to the bathroom. When he was still sharing the same room as the younger boys he'd done so many a time to help the boys smaller than himself get to the bathroom at night.
Ma'am often scolded him for his kindness but he kept doing it, now at least he was under another caretaker.
Still, Gaara didn't see why the kind smart kid beside him couldn't find a family. Why did quirks have to matter so much in this world? Even in his original world people saw the ninja profession for what it was. A dangerous and likely lethal career that most outside of ninja clans wouldn't want to see their children in. Things were no different if one became a hero, however, it seemed to be glamourized even in death.
Surely some potential parents out there wanted a child that would be less likely to join such a dangerous job?
The day went much as expected they showed off the kids that had activated their quirks in the order that the orphanage deemed to be the 'best' to the least and before it got to the less desirable ones the couple had made their choice.
Sato didn't even get a chance to talk to them, but that was normal.
Gaara was breezed over because they knew better, he was just too 'shy' to be adoptable at the moment, they had hopes that he'd grow out of it. He had no plans to do so any time soon. The pupil-less boy had nothing against gaining a family or a home however he wouldn't do so by showing them how much potential his 'quirk' had. There was more to a person than the power they wielded.
Hopefully one day more people would see that.
In the meantime, he would just have to hope for the best for those who were adopted and pray they found true affection and happiness in their new home.
The sun had barely risen when Gaara sat up from his bed hearing the distressed cry of a small boy.
He was a few beds away from the redhead's own, "What's wrong?" He made sure to talk softly as to not startle the boy or wake anyone else up. Especially Ma'am. She may have had no quirk but she did have surprisingly good hearing.
The boy sniffled but didn't answer, he was new so Gaara didn't know his name yet. For all the once-Kage knew he was just homesick.
Gaara could relate.
Before he could get up to check a familiar green reptile looking boy who was closer did just that, then the boy gasped in horror, "He wet the bed!" His wide eyes locked with Gaara's own pupil-less ones.
The smaller boy trembled and whimpered likely mistaking Shou's tone of voice as being horrified at the younger's action. But the redhead knew the real reason and quickly got out of bed as the memory played over inside of his head.
The words were still crystal clear as if the older woman was speaking them this very instant, "If you behave like a dog you get treated like one."
The last time one of the children in her care wet the bed Gaara hadn't understood why all the children were so worried but he soon saw.
There was nothing Ma'am liked less than things that were dirty.
She didn't shout or demand they clean the mess like he'd been excepting. No, instead, she grabbed the tiny boy by the scruff of his neck and then proceeded to rub his face in it.
Because that's how dogs learned apparently.
Gaara had to rein in his reaction after his moment of shock passed. He could hardly attack her although it was clear that she would have deserved it.
Still, the once-Kage could not let such a thing stand, he contemplated letting the other staff members know about the incident but quickly decided against such an idea.
For one he was just a young child, if she had said he was a lair or was mistaken, they'd very likely believe that was the case. The other children were afraid enough that if asked they would lie for her.
Thus, making him out to be either the one lying or in the better case scenario simply mistaken in what he thought he saw or heard.
Getting back at just her wasn't something he could attempt either, as good as it would feel. He could not bring himself to stoop to her level and it had the potential to backfire bringing with it her unwanted attention onto him further.
That's when he decided that all he could do was prevent it from happening in the future. Even if it meant taking the blame himself, though if or more like when it happened again the redhead hopped to have a better plan.
Luckily, Gaara had a lot of time to think so he had a plan.
"It's okay, come on get up let's get you and the bed changed and no one will ever know." He told the child gently while helping him out of bed, "Shou can you get another set of sheets?" The green boy stared at him for a moment as if he had never seen him before but then nodded, "On it."
While Shou went to the closet that housed the linens Gaara led the smaller boy to the dresser and got him a clean pair of pajamas as close to his size as possible. From there he helped him change into them.
He'd have liked to clean the boy off in the bathroom but that meant getting passed Ma'am's door and that was too risky.
Gaara knew he could do it on his own but taking the smaller boy with would be too much of a risk. He was trying to avoid the other child getting punished not get him into more trouble.
Once he was done helping the younger boy change into a set of fresh clothes, they left the dirtied night clothes laying on the floor and went to strip the bed.
As he did Shou rushed over with the sheets, Gaara deposited the soiled ones on the ground and that was where he ran into his first snag.
The once-ninja had never had to deal with an issue quite like this one before. So had not foreseen that he should have taken the sheets off as soon as possible to avoid it sinking through to the mattress.
If Gaara were the type to swear that would be an opportune moment.
Instead, he mentally berated himself for his oversight before turning his calm expression onto the other boys. They looked between the obvious stained mattress and him with varying shades of worry written on their faces.
Since the redhead was the one who had taken on the problem, he knew that he had to solve it, it was his responsibility.
"It's fine I have an idea." Both boys looked relieved at his words.
His solution was only a temporary one thought up on the fly until he could sneak away later to clean the mattress himself. Fortunately, in this life all the boys Gaara included had been taught how to clean an assortment of things.
Because if Ma'am was going to have them clean, they might as well do so right, for once he was glad for the strictness.
He motioned for the two to wait as the redhead went over to the window near his bed and unlatched it letting in his sand. He had been kept it waiting in a long line just outside in case of emergency.
The sand followed him back over to the bed where he made a clone of sand that gathered up the sheets and sleepwear. Then it went back the way it came, out the window.
"Where's it goin'?" The youngest of the trio asked finally seeming to have gained back his ability to speak.
"To put them with the laundry." Ma'am wasn't in charge of that this week she was in the kitchen with the usual kitchen staff, so it was unlikely that she'd find out.
"Oh…" He mumbled and shuffled his feet.
"Now what?" Shou asked pointing at the stain and looking to the clean white sheets that he still held.
Gaara simply called forth the sand he hadn't used on his clone and directed it to the bed to pull out as much moister as he could when the door opened.
The boys froze.
"What are you three doing up?" A friendly voice asked making Gaara's form lose the tension that had built up seconds before.
It was just Ms. Nakamura.
She was in charge of the boys over ten, it was rare to see her since her hands were usually full with the teenagers.
Ms. Nakamura walked into the still darkened room to get a better look, "Oh I see… well, where are the sheets then?"
"…I already took them to the laundry room." Gaara admitted before asking a question himself, "What're you doing in here Ms. Nakamura?"
"Well, Ms. Okada has come down with a sudden cold so for today you'll be with me." It took him a second to recall that 'Okada' was Ma'am's surname but if he hadn't the clear cheer of 'YES!' that rang out from behind their caretaker would have alerted him to the fact.
Ms. Nakamura Turned her head in the direction of the cheer, Kyo's bed.
He quickly flopped backward and tried to feint sleep again but it was useless. She'd already seen that it was him, "That's not very nice young man." The woman scolded but there was amusement in her voice so the boys knew not to take her seriously.
She shook her head at the boy's antics, "Well now that you're all up hurry and get washed up for breakfast."
Slowly all the boys apart from the three of them had trickled out of the room.
Shou tried to set the sheets down and sneak out with the others but the woman gave him a look that rooted him to the spot.
"Okay, you three I know accidents happen so I'll let you off with a warning… this time." Her eyes scanned them before she smiled, "And I won't let Ms. Okada know."
Shou let out a sigh of relief as the youngest boy looked a bit puzzled by the other's reaction.
Gaara nodded his thanks and thought not for the first time that whoever was in charge of the placement of the employees here had missed their mark. Clearly Ms. Nakamura would have been a better choice for the younger children.
"Alright now go on you three, I'll take over from here so get." Her hands made a shooing motion and the three boys did just that.
The next day Ma'am was back and Gaara thought she still looked unwell.
While the older woman never had a tan, she was paler than normal, her normally well-kept hair was unkempt and her eyes had bags under them. The redhead had never cared for her but he didn't wish her any true harm either.
She looked like she needed to rest.
Over the next few days, she didn't get any better, her eyes became shifty. And at the smallest hint that something was unclean she would have a meltdown.
Clearly something was wrong.
Gaara knew that he wasn't her favorite person but the boy felt like he needed to do something so he decided to approach the woman.
He waited until he saw that she was alone one evening after supper before doing so.
"Ma'am?" Gaara started not knowing exactly what he would say, "What?" She snapped before looking and seeing who had disrupted her. Ms. Okada frowned harder when she saw him, the caretaker also wiped her hands on her skirt in an odd fashion that one would do to clean or dry them off.
"If you're not feeling well… maybe you should request some more time off." It was only a suggestion and clearly it was an unwelcomed one as her face looked like she tasted something sour.
"I see what your trying to pull, don't think that I don't!" Her voice rose and broke towards the end, "You think you can be rid of me, that I can just be tossed away!"
Gaara took a step back wondering if the woman was having some kind of an episode, an emotional breakdown? As she started to get hysterical, he was sure that's what it was.
"I'm not some useless little girl anymore! I matter I do!" It was like she wasn't seeing him but some ghost of her past before her.
Gaara didn't know if he could talk her down, whatever was going on here was something that had been festering for a long time, years probably.
"You're right you do matter-" Everyone mattered but he didn't get to say that because he was cut off.
"Don't patronize me!" Her words were harsh but not overly loud.
"I'm not, you're not useless I don't know who told you that but they're wrong-"
"NO! I will NOT let some little brat try and PRETEND to UNDERSTAND me!" The woman made to push her way past him but when her hand went to shove him his sand reacted and blocked her.
She shirked then as if he'd hit her and looked at her hand in horror before she darted away. Gaara heard the bathroom door slam and walked slowly to stand outside of it.
The water was running, it was too loud to be the sink. It was the shower, did she feel the need to shower after he hand had touched some sand? That was extreme.
Gaara was truly concerned about this woman's state of mind.
She needed help.
More than that, she shouldn't be around children.
Only a few hours later he would find out how right he was.
Gaara was wide awake listening to the sound of the other boys' breathing lost in thought, it was a normal night.
It didn't stay that way.
He smelled the smoke before he saw it.
The redhead shot up and out of bed, he went to the door where he saw the smoke streaming in from underneath the door crack.
Gaara looked back towards the windows, the one by his bed was the biggest but all of them could fit if only just for some of the older ones.
Quickly without making any noise he went to the window and flipped the latch only to push and have it not budge an inch. That was when he saw something that made his blood run cold, the window seal was nailed shut.
That could only mean one thing, someone had set the fire and meant to kill them.
The fact that they likely meant to kill them painlessly in their sleep didn't make it any better. And just in case they did wake the only window they could escape out of was sealed.
Why hadn't he noticed the window sooner?
Gaara decided he was getting too careless but that he'd worry about that at another time.
He had hoped to do this without scaring the other children but it couldn't be helped. If he broke the window it'd frighten them awake, if he awoke them first they'd also be scared. There was no good way to go about this.
He had to pick one of them though.
"Everybody wake up!" He rarely spoke loudly but that didn't mean that he couldn't.
Some sat up quickly others not so fast and some even seemed to ignore him until one shouted, "Hey what's that smell, is it smoke!?"
"A fire?" Another cried and before he could warn them not to a boy had run for the door and swung the door open. A huge cloud of smoke came in before another kid slammed it back.
While the others panicked and coughed Gaara turned back to the window and used all the sand he'd stored up along the bottom of the window to ram it.
It broke with an ear-piercing crash, one that had all attention now focused his way.
He vaguely wondered if the noise had disturbed the people in the nearby rooms. It should have but well they may have already breathed in some smoke making them harder to wake.
"Come on, we can get out this way." They didn't need to be told twice but he did have to use his sand to block them from running over the shattered glass, "Be careful." He told the hurrying children while helping one at a time onto his sand so that it could take them outside, it was necessary as all the bedrooms were on the second floor.
Gaara's eyes were watering and even he who was closest to the broken window was having coughing fits, "Kyo grab a blanket and shove it under the door too much smoke is getting inside."
Kyo looked like he would argue but hearing him cough he did as he was told.
One by one all fourteen boys made it outside including Gaara.
They stuck close to the redhead even the older boys as his pupil-less eyes surveyed the back of the building.
If the noise hadn't woken the other residents then they could still be asleep, even if it had there was the possibility that they had their window sealed. With that in mind, the redhead looked to the frightened children gathered around him.
"I'm going to see if the older boys need any help getting out you wait here."
Like he expected none were too thrilled with his choice but he was on his sand and up in the air near the windows before they could try and stop him. It took him a bit longer because while he knew where the other room was located he'd never surveyed its position from the outside. Nor had he counted the windows or noticed their size on the few occasions when he was in the room.
Finding the windows that housed them he realized two things at once, one: They had not been awoken by the noise and two: the windows were too small for most of the boys in the room. It didn't help that some of them had extra features that would make it even more difficult to squeeze out such a small space.
Gaara looked through the window at the slumbering kids and then down to the sand he was hovering on, it had been a long time since he'd used it to destroy something. The strength hadn't gone anywhere and he hadn't forgotten it, the redhead knew what needed to be done.
Using as little sand as he could to carry himself the once-ninja used the rest to form into a giant fist, then he motioned his had as if to take ahold of the window. The sand copied the motion, then Gaara yanked and so to did the hand only it took the window and part of the wall with it.
That certainly got the occupants' attention. Some cried out in fear, others shock or anger.
Quickly Gaara turned the hand into a slide, a sand slide not unlike something he'd created at recess once then calmly explained the situation to them.
Things moved along more or less smoothly after that.
With his feet back on the ground and all the orphaned boys around him, he wondered what to do next. The caretakers' rooms were not in an ideal location. They were in the middle at an angle in between rooms so they have windows to access. That meant he'd have to go back inside but he also had a bunch of kids to worry about.
Gaara had caused structural damage meaning that leaving them here alone wasn't an option as something could fall.
Then there was his own safety to consider, going back in when the pale-eyed boy didn't know how far the fire had spread wasn't a good idea. Neither was staying in the back of a building on fire and away from those who could help.
That decided he led the other children to the front of the orphanage hoping to see if anyone else made it outside, the boys all followed without complaint. Some coughed and others sniffed but they didn't say much all worn out and scared.
Gaara didn't know what he expected to find at the front of the building but it wasn't what he found.
Standing there were some curious bystanders watching, not helping not even calling for help.
None of the people were from the orphanage, meaning the rest of the staff and the other children were still inside. Perhaps still sleeping unaware of the danger they were in.
Gaara usually was very good at not showing his annoyance but he didn't even bother as he shouted out to the ever-growing crowd, "Has anyone called the police or the fire department?"
That got him some looks, then as if seeing the children had made something click in their minds most started to pull out their cellphones.
Gaara looked back at the burning building and saw the different areas on fire and knew that it was arson. Of course, he had known that the second he'd seen the window. The pupil-less boy had even taken the time to eye the one he'd removed and seen the same nails in the frame.
Sadly the once-Kage even had a suspect but she too was currently missing.
Help would eventually arrive but how many might succumb to their injuries before that happened?
It was more than possible that some of the people inside were already suffering from smoke inhalation.
Taking a deep breathe Gaara knew what he needed to do.
He called forth his sand and ran back into the building not heeding the cries of the other boys behind him.
Using his sand to shield himself from the smoke as much as possible he took in his surroundings. Mostly he saw smoke downstairs, the first noticeable flames where the ones that had engulfed the stairs.
Luckily Gaara had his sand to aid him in getting to the upstairs.
The girls' rooms were the closest. Then their caretakers, next would be the adults in charge of the boys. Right at this moment, there were three rooms for the girls due to the amount of them and only two for the boys. The room he came from was evacuated as was the room housing the other boys so if he acted quickly maybe he could get everyone out safely.
The was one he was most concerned about getting was the boy's caretakers as he would have to somehow go to the opposite side of the building unless he went back outside to the back and found a window. Was that the best option?
Gaara was already inside so first went to the third room on the right of the staircase. It was the closest that had occupants, that room in particular housed the older girls over the age of ten.
The smoke was only getting stronger but there was no fire blocking the doors, even so, he kept his arm blocking his face as his sand opened the door. Gaara called out to them as soon as he was in but many were groggy and slow to wake. He had to manually shake some of them to consciousness.
Once they were all aware of what was happening the girls moved as fast as they could out of the room all the while covering their faces.
"I'll-" An older girl coughed, "get the other girls go wake Ms. Kubo and the other, " she coughed again, "caregivers." Gaara didn't argue and went in the direction she pointed, his eyes were starting to sting.
Soon he was waking the adults in charge of the girls, Ms. Kubo had her own room just like Ma'am did so he went to her first as it was the one right off the girl's room, once awake she helped get the rest of the staff. The pale-eyed boy should've known it was going too well.
After he had used his sand to form a set of stairs for the girls and the adults to climb down Ms. Kubo had grabbed a hold of him and made him go down them with her. The pale-eyed boy had tried to protest but was too weak from all the smoke he had inhaled. It was hot and the boy was covered in enough ash that he was sure his hair and maybe his skin tone would be indistinguishable.
They nearly made it to the front door when they got cut off by a sea of flames that hadn't been blocking the door when he'd first got inside. Just then someone burst through the front double doors and used their quirks to get through the fire while others started to beat back the flames. This was enough to allow firefighters and heroes alike to help see them to safety.
Once outside Gaara breathed fresh air for the first time in he wasn't sure how long, as a result, he started to cough, "Get the kid on oxygen!" One of their rescuers hollered over the noise. And it was loud, there were people everywhere his eyes looked, heroes, firefighter, police offices, curious bystanders, medical personnel, it was more people than he had ever seen in this lifetime.
Gaara was too tried to comprehend it all and simply followed where they were taking him. He let them put the breathing mask on, only to pull it off a moment later to inform the person beside him of the room with the rest of the caretakers in the back of the building.
She nodded and relayed the message before shoving the mask back onto his face.
Gaara's pupil-less eyes watched the police keeping people back while the firefighters fought the flames then even more heroes seemed to arrive and were making quick work of the fire. His shoulders shagged thinking it was nearly over when there was a resounding boom. It came from the back of the building, the left side. Where the boys' and caregivers' rooms were.
Shoving the mask off for a second time he easily dodged the hands that tried to grab at him and made his way to where the explosion had occurred.
He was having trouble breathing when the soot-covered boy reached his goal, the back of the orphanage.
Gaara was in good shape for his age, but clearly the smoke he'd inhaled had made things more difficult than he had anticipated. Still, his keen eyes took in the scene of both the firefighters and heroes doing their best to control the now out of control blaze. What had happened to cause this? Was something located in this particular area that was highly flammable? He couldn't think of anything but his head was kind of foggy so that didn't mean much.
Deciding that he could help the once-ninja started to send as much sand as he could gather and control at the flames.
It didn't take long for someone to notice him and insist that they remove him from the area but it was all hands on deck and everyone was busy with the fire so instead they kept an eye out to make sure he didn't get too close.
"We could really have used Endeavor!" One called out while using his water-based quirk to fight the fire.
Gaara didn't pay much attention to who was who in the hero world but it was impossible to get away from hearing about certain heroes and Endeavor was one such hero.
Just then a person burst out of the hole he'd made earlier when freeing the older boys, it only somewhat surprised Gaara that this person was using sand. No, not using it, his body had turned into it? In the light of the fire, it was hard for Gaara to determine colors but he knew it was a hero if only for the mask on his face.
The masked hero had in his grasp two of the caregivers, or more accurately held within his sand.
One of them was Ma'am.
She didn't look happy.
The sand hero landed and Gaara got a quick look at him. His large mustache, long hair, and serious expression half-hidden under a mask that covered the top part of his face were the most noticeable features at first glance.
The hero set the two of the women down before he rushed back inside using his sand-like body to keep from being burnt by the flames.
Ma'am's legs shook as her body gave way and she fell to the ground, none of the firefighters had taken note of her yet. Her co-worker hurried away from the flaming building on unsteady feet as to get close to the firefighters, likely to gain their attention. Ma'am just sat there and stared at it.
Gaara didn't know why he did it, the last time hadn't gone well but still, he approached the woman.
Her gaze remained steadfast on the fire, the fire Gaara suspected she had caused.
For several long minutes, neither broke the silence.
Then she spoke her voice hoarse, "I thought it was you when I saw that dirt coming at me..."
Gaara said nothing, "To think I have the unfortunate luck to meet two people with such filthy quirks."
He stayed quiet again so she finally turned to look at him, "Don't look at me with those creepy judgy eyes."
Gaara didn't look away, he just asked, "Why did you do it?"
The woman sneered, "I knew it was you... who else would have gotten them out. You did them no favors I'll have you know!"
Gaara was slightly surprised that she didn't even bother to deny it.
"And you were?"
"Of course! Unlike you those children are not adoptable," She glared at him with unconcealed envy, "they're useless wastes of space and they would have never had to find that out first hand if not for you!"
"They aren't." He said with a conviction that was beyond his physical age.
"Yes, they are! And the ones lucky enough to have quirks might as well not have them for how pathic they are!" They had been getting fewer and fewer kids with strong or desirable quirks but Gaara hadn't thought much about it until now, "They're powerless, they are all powerless." The soot-covered boy was beginning to think Ms. Okada meant she felt powerless.
He had always had power but having it didn't mean that he had always felt like he was in control, for many years Gaara had not felt like his life was his own.
The actions he took to prove otherwise. To prove his existence was not something that could be taken back, he was fully aware of how horrible the things he had done were. He had acknowledged them, then moved forward trying to do better.
If he could do that then surely this woman could as well.
"Quirks aren't everything." Gaara's words didn't have an ounce of deceit in them but she searched for it anyway.
The woman held strong onto her beliefs not swayed by his words, "What would you know! You have one!"
Gaara nodded, "I do, but there are more important things." His hand touched his forehead a place where a familiar scar no longer resided. "Things I don't have," The anymore was silent and only heard by himself, "things that you could obtain if you opened yourself up to them."
Finding her feet she stood shakily as if towering over him gave her the advantage, "There is nothing more important than having a good quirk, nothing!" Ms. Okada seethed.
Looking up at her he had the sudden feeling that he was the adult staring into the eyes of a hurt little girl.
And she was hurting that was clear, however, that didn't excuse her or her actions. Actions that had nearly taken many innocent lives. That had destroyed the only home they knew and pushed them into an uncertain situation where they'd likely be split up into various orphanages already overcapacity.
Even so, Gaara wanted to try and get through to this woman, if only enough to make her realize that she wasn't as worthless as she felt.
"Love is more important."
"Love? You are such a child." Her body shook as she let loose a dull dry laugh, "Love isn't real! It's a story told to poor lonely orphans to give them hope. A false hope."
"Do you really believe that?" Gaara's eyes searched hers, "Yes." Her voice was steady, the redhead could see that she was convinced.
"Then I feel sorry for you." Anger flashed across her face, her hand moved before she thought.
The slap didn't connect, it was blocked once again by sand but it wasn't Gaara's.
Both looked at the man who's hand had blocked the attack with his own hand which was currently made of sand. The once-ninja briefly wondered how long he'd been there, his next words made it a bit more obvious that it was long enough to hear something incriminating.
"I've heard enough, I'll escort you to the police where you can repeat your story." His voice was no-nonsense and she didn't bother to fight him despite the disgust she wore at being touched by his hand, even though it was no longer sand. Her free hand rubbed her soot-covered nightshirt, she didn't seem to notice it did nothing but smear the ash.
As she was lead away Gaara called out, "I hope that someday someone will convince you where I failed."
The hero and the culprit paused, "...And a part of me hopes you stay naive, but I know the world will crush it out of you." Ms. Okada replied not looking at the boy.
Gaara didn't waste any time watching her instead the pupil-less boy turned back to the building. Though thoroughly exhausted and no longer having anyone inside he called forth his sand to help with the fire where he could.
The once-Kage was far from naive and he didn't need to learn of the world's cruelty he knew it well in any world.
He no longer needed physical proof of what love was or what it meant but as he watched the flames dim he wondered if others might.
Heroes were symbols just like ninjas were only heroes where a much more public symbol... much like a Kage.
And yet nothing like one.
His sand moved as he directed it all the while never slowing down on his attempt to put out the fire.
When the sand hero walked over to the worn-out boy covered in soot a few moments later he paused, "You're bleeding."
"It'll stop in a minute."
Eyeing the scar the hero asked, "You did that didn't you?"
"Can I ask why?"
Gaara thought about how to answer the man's question, it would be difficult to explain.
It was once a reminder of what love meant to him, one he didn't truly feel he needed... it was... a symbol.
Pale-eyes meet the sand hero's own, "It's a promise."
The masked man's eyes held the child's for a moment sensing his seriousness. He chuckled and knelt down placing a hand on the smaller sand user's shoulder, "Alright son, but no more promises that leave you scarred. Can you promise me that?"
The soot-covered boy looked thoughtful before he bobbed his head up and down, "Yes, I can promise that."
"Good, now let's get you looked over."
Sajin Higawara or more publicly known as the Sand Hero Snatch arrived home late and not for the first time that week. Hero work didn't have a set schedule after all, at such a late hour he would not blame his wife if she had already called it a night.
That was normal for Ichika, if he wasn't home she would wait up. Ever since the injury that had forced her to retire from hero work she had taken it upon herself to always be there for him. Whether it was simply waiting for him to return home or lending him a friendly ear when he needed to talk about something. She was determined to continue to be his support even if only off of the battlefield.
"Welcome home." She didn't rise from the couch but did turn away from the television to greet him warmly.
He returned the greeting.
"You're home late," He nodded before collapsing beside her on the couch, old sitcoms were playing. She did like her late-night re-runs. "Tough day?" The hero simply shrugged while he leaned his head back and closed his eyes, "Two robberies, one disgruntled employee, and a fire."
The woman hummed before she pinched her nose, "I thought you smelt funny, should I run a bath?" It wasn't the first time he'd come home from a fire, her husband regularly helped the fire department since his quirk made him ideal for fire rescues.
"No." He waved his hand carelessly, "No, I'll just grab a quick shower in a minute."
Ichika nodded then patted his leg before getting up, "Okay, well if you're hungry I put some leftovers on the top shelf of the refrigerator, feel free to heat them up."
"Sure." He said making no move to actually do so.
His next words made her pause.
"The fire..." He started opening his eyes and lifting his head to gaze at his wife.
"I met a boy there... a rather serious little thing." Ichika waited patiently for him to continue.
"Then suddenly out of nowhere your words came to mind."
The woman walked back to the couch and sat beside him, "Which ones? I am quite wise so I'm sure it was something enlightening."
He quirked a smile at that, she was joking. However, Sajin had always thought her wise beyond her years.
"It was... that 'parenthood would come to us when we least expected it.'" She had said that after one of the many trips to the doctor. The same incident that resulted in her early retirement from being a hero had also made it incredibly hard to get pregnant and carry the babe to term.
"The fire was at an orphanage." Her expression turned worried, "No one was seriously injured." He assured her before continuing.
"The boy I mentioned... he was trying to help put the fire out with his sand quirk." Ichika blinked owlishly and then smiled at that.
She knew that a sand quirk wasn't a common type.
"But it was more than that, there was something about this boy when I spoke to him... I just knew." He didn't have to say any more.
Adoption wasn't something that they'd really talked about in length before, but she had never been against the possibility.
"I want to meet him."
"I knew you'd say that." He smiled.
Author's Notes: For those who aren't manga readers or maybe just not caught up Sajin Higawara aka The Sand Hero Snatch shows up in chapter 160. He is 45 when we see him making him around 35 or so here, not much is known about him like who his family is or even if he had a wife so I am gonna be making up things as I go.
So far I've got no hero name suggestions, does anyone have one? And who thinks he should be in class 1-A and who thinks 1-B?
For anyone interested, these are the results from both FF and A03 -
Parent/s votes: Enji Todoroki/Endeavor - 4, Inko Midoriya - 3, Nemuri Kayama/Midnight- 2, Hizashi Yamada/Present Mic - 2, Ken Ishiyama/Cementoss - 1, Mitsuki and Masaru Bakugo - 1, Naomasa Tsukauchi - 1
Pairing votes: Itsuka Kendo - 3, Mina Ashido - 3, Tsuyu Asui - 2, Reiko Yanagi - 2, Shoto Todoroki - 2, Ibara Shiozaki, - 1, Toru Hagakura - 1, Nejire Hado - 1, Momo Yaoyorozu - 2, Ochaco Uraraka - 1, Yui Kodai - 1, Kyoka Jirou - 1, Pony Tsunotori - 1, Katsuki Bakugo - 1
Like I said before keep the suggestions coming on who you'd like to see with Gaara and feel free to suggest other side pairings as well. In the end, the numbers don't really matter I'm going to choose who I think will go best with Gaara in this story. That doesn't mean I won't think long and hard if one gets a lot more votes or even if the person recommending them makes a really good case for said pairing.