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Gaara sighed, staring blankly up at the imposing brick building in front of him. “Konoha High”, otherwise known as the soul-sucking prison he was condemned to spend his senior year of high school at.


‘Unless they see you for the freak you are and you get kicked out again’ a familiar but unwelcome voice chuckled in his ears. Gaara breathed heavily out of his nostrils, shutting his eyes and rubbing at his temples. “It’s not real, get over it,” he muttered to himself, and felt the telltale signs of a headache beginning to surface. He opened his eyes finally and looked back up at the building, a stronger sense of dread than usual curling in his chest. He wasn’t sure why but he could already tell that things were about to get much worse.


Much, much worse


Gaara grit his teeth and dug his nails into the arms of the faux-leather chair he was leaning back in, doing his best to tune out the droning voice of the principal. 


‘Why are we even here? You know nothing good will come from this. It'll be exactly like last time, kid.’


Gaara snorted, causing the principal to look up and frown at the redhead. “Was something I said funny to you, Mr. Subaku?”


Gaara rolled his eyes and shook his head, actually chuckling albeit humorlessly now. “Nothing you said was interesting enough to be considered remotely funny.”


The principal narrowed his eyes and locked his jaw, lines of displeasure etching themselves along his weathered face. “I have read your rather... extensive record, Mr. Subaku. Eight schools in six years? I’m not sure how they did it at the previous ones, but at this school we do not just simply expel delinquents. Act up and you will be punished accordingly.”


Gaara’s eyes widened in anger, temper immediately flaring up as his nails dug in deep enough to tear through the cheap fabric.

The principal leaned back in his chair, linking his fingers together as he regarded the seething boy in front of him. “I figured that’s what you were hoping for, to simply be expelled. But here at Konoha High we believe every child has the chance to learn and grow not only as a student but as a person as well. I am confident we will help you unlock your full potential here.”


“Quit acting like you know everything about me-”


Gaara was shocked into silence by the slamming of a palm on the desk separating him and the much older man, immediately flinching at the loud noise and tensing, eyes darting around the room. The principal sighed heavily, eyes closing momentarily before fixating on the young man who was now practically shaking in anger.


“I believe I already told you this,” he began, voice quiet but tone dripping in severity. “But we do not tolerate bad behavior or disrespect at Konoha. Act out again and I will take disciplinary measures. I am aware of your mental health issues-”


“I don’t have ‘mental health issues’-“


"I'd advise you not to interrupt me. Your father has already-” 

Gaara tensed for what felt like the thousandth time that day, noticeable enough that the principal stopped talking and raised an eyebrow. The new student shut his eyes tightly and took deep breaths through his nose, biting the inside of his cheek hard enough to draw blood. The rush of the bitter metallic flavor was enough to rip him from his reprieve and instill a new sense of panic in him, enough that he was forced to open his eyes and stand immediately, knocking his knees sharply against the hard wooden desk. Without saying a word he turned and left the office in a hurry, slamming the door behind him as he rushed down the crowded hall, the too loud hall, and GOD why were people always so loud, and entered the nearest bathroom, not even bothering to lock the stall door behind him and sinking to the floor with his hands over his ears.


‘Pathetic,’  Shukaku whispered, and for once Gaara didn’t even try to disagree with him. He focused on his racing heart and used the erratic movements to comfort himself. As long as it beats, he was here. As long as it beats, he was alive.


His breathing eventually slowed down as did his heart beat until it felt normal. Slow, but normal. Normal was good. Consistent. Letting out a breath of fresh air he pulled his hands away from his head, grimacing as he felt a few strands of hair he had obviously pulled out in between his fingers. He hadn’t even noticed.


Suddenly the bathroom door swung open and Gaara tensed again but kept his eyes shut. No one had to find him, he was locked in a stall and safe.


“I got Tobirama for APUSH, who’d you get?” A bored voice said, clearly uninterested but bringing up the topic to rid the groups lull of silence.


“Tobirama? Oh shit!” A much louder voice squeaked, and Gaara winced. His voice was hinging on excitement and nervousness as he directed his next question at another boy. “Doesn’t he like hate your whole family, Sasuke?”


Gaara bit his hand in order to quell the yelp that threatened to escape his lips and give away his position. Sasuke? No way, there were plenty of Sasukes out there. It couldn’t be.


Another uninterested voice began speaking. He may have been speaking at a normal volume but his voice was as clear as if he was screaming at the top of his lungs, which, ironically, was what Gaara felt like doing right that moment.


“Yeah, I’m pretty sure he hates all Uchihas for some fucked up reason.”