Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.

Chapter 2

Minoko wandered through the streets of her new home, eyes wide in wonder. It was similar to her old village. Same colors, same sandy structures, similar smells coming from venders. But it was different. It was so BIG! There were houses that were taller here, more than one floor apiece. Minoko had never seen anything so huge.

She had been walking only a few minutes after leaving her apartment when the road tapered off into a sandy playground. Minoko stood on top of a slight hill overlooking it as she took in everything. There were swings and slides and a large open area where a group of children were playing with a ball.

She was about to go ask if she could play when she heard the slow squeaking of chains. Looking slightly to the right she saw a little boy her age on the swing set. He held onto the chains with both hands and quietly pushed himself back and forth ever so slightly. He was looking at the kids with a blank expression. Seeming to sense her eyes on him, the red-head tore his gaze from the laughing group and looked at her. Seafoam met crimson as Minoko was momentarily swept away into a dream bubble. It was shorter than usual. Just her and the redhead walking side by side. She was laughing while he tried to glare at her, a small smile tugging at his lips before he gave up and chuckled.

She came back to reality when a shout of frustration came from the group of kids. The boy's eyes snapped over and she followed his gaze. Apparently, the ball had gotten stuck on a ledge. The boy on the swings got up and hesitantly started walking toward the group. As Minoko watched, her breath caught briefly. Somehow, there was a small amount of sand that seemed to come alive, gently encasing the ball and lowering it into the redhead's awaiting arms.

All of the other kids froze. There was no sound coming from the once rowdy group. The lone boy seemed to take a breath before smiling shyly and holding out the ball. That seemed to snap everyone out of their daze. One kid screamed and called the boy a monster. That made Minoko angry.

"Hey!" she yelled as she ran/slid down the sandy embankment. All eyes fell one her as she stomped up to the group, as much rage as a normal four-year-old could have shining in her eyes.

"He tried to do something nice for you by getting your ball down and you call him a monster!? You're nothing but a mean bully! You don't deserve your ball back!" she said, putting her hands on her hips like she had seen her mommy doing when she got angry at someone.

One of the older kids looked at her like she was crazy, "What are you talking about? Don't you know who that is?" he asked pointing shakily to the redhead.

She blinked for s a second as she looked over her shoulder at the boy. His eyes were a bit wide as he looked back at her.

"Hey, what's your name?"

He blinked a couple times before quietly answering "Gaara."

She nodded and turned back to the group, "He's Gaara and he's going to be my best friend!" she declared with a triumphant smile.

The older boy in front of her stared in disbelief before he blinked and looked at the others in the group. No one seemed to know how to react to her proclamation.

"What's going on over here?" asked a voice from behind them. Minoko looked up and saw a man with shoulder length blond hair approaching. The older boy looked at the group of kids again and said "Let's just go home." The others nodded quickly and scampered away. Minoko huffed in their general direction and sticking her tongue out at them. Sniffing in satisfaction she turned around to see the man look at her in amusement and Gaara looking back and forth between her and the retreating backs of the other kids.

The man glanced at her self-proclaimed best friend, "Are you ok Gaara?"

The young boy blinked and looked at the man, "Uncle. I…" his little nose scrunched up in confusion as he glanced at her quickly, "I think…I made a friend."

Minoko smiled widely and hopped in place, "Yep! We're going to be best friends! I'm Minoko. I'm four years old!"

Gaara just nodded, his eyes wide and a small smile starting to tug at the corners of his mouth. The older man looked at her curiously and said, "I'm Yashamaru. I'm Gaara's uncle on his mother's side. It's nice to meet you Minoko-chan."

"You really meant it?" Gaara whispered, "You really want to be my friend?"

"Yep!" Minoko said with a grin, "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Cause…" Gaara looked sown as his voice got softer, "cause I'm a monster."

Minoko frowned, "No you're not."

Gaara glanced up at her nervously and slowly pointed down. Minoko looked where he was pointing and saw a tendril of sand rise. It formed a hand that waved at her. Minoko's eyes widened as she crouched down to get a better look, not noticing the uncle tensing as she did so. It really looked like a real hand! She looked up at Gaara, "That's so cool! Are you the one doing that?"

He slowly nodded and jumped a little when she seemed to practically teleport in front of him. The smile on her face couldn't have been more excited or more genuine, "I bet you can make awesome sand castles!"

She looked over at Yashamaru who seemed to be generally conflicted. The look on his face was weird, like he was angry or scared or had to poop or something. Yeah, he probably had to poop. She sometimes got that look when that happened. She smiled up at him, "Can Gaara and I play for a while? Pleeeease? I don't have to go home for…" she glanced up at the sky to find the sun, "…for a couple hours still."

When Gaara looked away from her to see what his uncle would say, Yashamaru's look slowly softened, "I don't see why not. Just be careful. I'll come by when it starts to get dark to walk you both home."

Minoko squealed in delight and grabbed Gaara's hand. He was so surprised that the sand didn't do anything that he let her drag him away. Slowly, a real smile spread across his face. He made a friend.

Yashamaru watched the children go and kept an eye on them for a few minutes before he turned to leave. He needed to report this. That little girl could be the key to controlling Gaara. He just didn't know if the Kazekage would see that as a good thing or not. He hoped that nothing bad would come of it. The girl, Minoko, seemed like a sweet little thing. He'd hate for something to happen to her. And Gaara seemed happy for the first time he could really remember.

He sighed. Well, there was nothing he could do about it. He was a shinobi. He would simply do as his leader ordered. No matter the cost.

A/N: And Gaara and Yashamaru come into play while Minoko saves the day! (Yes, that rhymed. Yes, it was cheesy. No, I will not take it back ^_^).

I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, please leave a review!