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

Chapter 4

Minoko closed her eyes, her hands firmly held against her ears to block out the sound. She couldn't even hear herself scream, even though she knew that she was because her throat was starting to hurt. She had felt something soft and heavy lay on top of her the moment she fell to the ground, but she was too scared to look.

When the noise died down, she peeked one eye open. It was darker than before. She couldn't see a thing! She moved and felt the soft, heavy thing move off of her. The top of the sand dome opened a bit to let some light in and she realized that Gaara had tried to shield her from any damage.

He had a wild look in his eye as he stared out of the top of the sand dome. She had never seen that look on someone's face before. He grabbed his head and grimaced like he was in pain, but she didn't see any blood. Though it was hard to tell with the low lighting and the fact that his hair was the same color as blood would be.

He started to mutter quietly, but she could only make out a few words like "make", "pay", "kill", and "mother."

She reached out to take his hand again and the headache seemed to go away since the pained expression disappeared. He looked at her in shock, not seeming to know what to say or do. Neither did she. She hadn't felt this scared since the big fire at her old home.

Suddenly, a voice called out to them from outside the barrier asking if they were ok. Gaara somehow looked excited and calm at the same time when he heard the voice. He immediately lowered the rest of the sand shield to reveal Yashamaru standing on the other side. Minoko felt a rush of relief the moment his concerned face came into view.

He ran up to them and dropped to his knees. Gaara let go of her hand and almost collapsed in his uncle's arms.

"Yashamaru-oji-san, I was so scared! I thought that Minoko was going to get hurt because of me. Father was right, it's all my fault!" he cried.

Yashamaru looked up at her and opened his other arm for her. She quickly ran to join the hug and started to cry. He shushed them and picked them both up, "You're both ok now, the shinobi that attacked you are gone. They ran off when they saw me. You're safe."

He set them down on a bench nearby and crouched in front of them, "Now, are you ok? Any injuries?" he asked, holding up a green glowing hand.

Both children shook their heads and wiped away their tears.

"Can you tell me what happened? I'm going to have to report this to the Kazekage."

They told him everything they could remember about what happened. When they finished, Yashamaru paused a moment to think. He looked at them after about a minute and said, "I see. That's not good. Please make sure you guys are inside before nightfall for the next couple of weeks. I don't want you wandering around until we find out who attacked you." The kids both nodded rapidly, agreeing with his request instantly.

He stood up straight and looked around before glancing down at them on the bench again. He hesitated again before asking, "Would you two like to train with me? I could teach you about becoming a shinobi so that you won't get hurt as easily. And you'd be able to defend yourselves."

Gaara shifted in in his seat before looking his uncle in the eye, "Do you think that father would be ok with it?"

Yashamaru smiled, "If you want to train with me, I'll take care of it."

Gaara went quiet and looked like he was deep in thought.

Minoko sniffed one more time, dried her tears, and looked at Yashamaru, "I never want to feel like that again. I want to protect Gaara. He made sure I was safe, but I couldn't help him. Please train me!"

Gaara looked at her with wide eyes, then looked at his uncle with all the determination a four year old could have and nodded firmly.

Yashamaru smiled softly and nodded back, "Ok, then. I'll walk with you to take Minoko home. I should tell her parents what happened and make plans to schedule some training time with you."

When they got to the house, Kai Taru and Mizuno stood at the door with irate expressions on their faces. However, when Yashamaru briefly explained what happened to them, they quickly scooped up their daughter and hugged her close. Mizuno buried her face in her child's hair while rocking her back and forth.

Taru looked up at the other two standing in his doorway with a melancholy smile, "Thank you Gaara, Yashamaru. You brought her back safely. I can't even begin to imagine how I could repay you."

Yashamaru waved him off while Gaara blushed and shuffled his feet a bit.

"It's no problem," Yashamaru said, "I'm just sorry that your daughter was stuck in the middle of this mess," his expression turned a bit serious as he looked at Minoko's parents, "Though, to make sure that she stays safe, I have offered to give her some shinobi training. Just to learn how to defend herself if something like this should ever happen again."

Taru turned to his wife in concern while Mizuno gaped at the jonin. Her face went a bit red as she opened her mouth to speak when her husband cut her off.

"That would be appreciated, Yashamaru-san."

"Taru!" Mizuno exclaimed, turning to her husband with a look of betrayed disbelief.

"It's just self defense. You don't want her to be vulnerable do you?"

Mizuno's face went through several different emotions before settling on a small glare at her husband. She eventually gave a reluctant sigh as she held her daughter a bit closer, "Fine. Only for self-defense though. My daughter will not be a shinobi."

Yashamaru nodded in agreement and turned to leave, but Gaara didn't move. Yashamaru looked down at him quizzically as Gaara looked between his uncle and the Kai family hesitantly before speaking up.

"I want to stay with Minoko." He said in a nearly inaudible voice.

Her parents smiled a bit at the redhead and Taru said, "We'd be honored if you stayed. You two can have a sleepover. Well, as long as it's ok with your family."

Gaara looked to his uncle with hope shining in his eyes. Yashamaru chuckled a bit, "I'll stop by a little later tonight with some of Gaara's things."

Minoko whooped loudly and wriggled out of her parents' hold. She grabbed Gaara's hand and dragged him to her room before he could even thank his uncle. The adults smiled softly at each other before Yashamaru turned and left.

Later that night, Yashamaru knelt in front of the Kazekage. The leader of Sunagakure was intimidating at the best of times, but the sandy-blond haired shinobi still had a cold sweat forming all over his body. He really should be used to this by now.

"How did it go tonight?" asked the leader. His voice was void of emotion, especially since it concerned his youngest child.

Yashamaru lowered his head more, "Everything went according to plan, sir."

A/N: Dun-dun-duuuuun! And that's it for chapter four. As always, let me know what you think by leaving a review!