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Oxymoronic

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There is an odd sort of serenity in the sand, you think.

 

Back when you were a child, estranged and lonely, the sand seemed barren, dry, with no hope for growth. But, concomitantly, it was also a protector. An anchor, of sorts. Some constant being all through your life. You were born in the land of sand; your mother died in the land of sand, you killed in the sand, you hoped to die in the sand.

 

But of course, if some brave soul would have asked you the ultimately mindless question that was “What is your opinion on sand?” You would have said you were indifferent- if you had answered at all, that is.

 

However, you had quite a strong opinion. Which is something you knew deep in your chest as a child, and now freely acknowledged as Kazekage. You and sand were something of the same. Sand was your protector, just the same as it was a killer. It killed your uncle, your citizens, children, innocents. And somewhere between your uncle's death and the multitude of assassin's attempts on your life. You and Sand had become synonymous.

 

Sand had, and always will be, a part of you. Physically, mostly. It caked your skin, got into your eyes, your hair, it seemed to follow you wherever you went. No matter how many showers you took. If you brushed a hand through your maroon locks, you’d come away with sand on your hands.

 

But after you had been freed from Shukaku , your affinity for the sediment had become less of an ever-looming shadow and more of silent guardian. You were finally the one in control. No longer would people look at you and see the one-tailed beast settled spiritually behind your abdomen. People would see you now as a peace-maker, a leader, someone to look up to.

 

The change was truly astounding.

 

Sand had raised you, guided you, and would bring you to your end. You could now look over your village with a quiet, pulsing fondness. One that brought a familiar, but not unwelcome, ache to your chest. It allowed for tears to prick your eyelids, as you whispered a thousand words of thanks in your head.

 

You are the same, while you are also different. You are no longer the sad, lost child that wandered the streets of Sunagakure. You are now a noble, well-respected Kage. You brought together the once constantly warring country with Konoha and allowed the deep-seated hatred to fade into a long-lasting alliance.

 

And yet, you are the same. Red hair. Blue eyes, covered with dark rings of exhaustion that were once from insomnia and now come with the stress of being the Kazekage. Red clothes. The red kanji that has permanently marked your forehead. And as you look over your colorings you realize you have quite the fondness for red. Which you find ironic, considering what was once associated with you in your youth.

 

People saw your unruly head of red hair roaming sandy sidewalks and they thought blood. And you knew of this, accepted it as straight fact. You were quite the bloody mess back in the day, and it hurts to remember that none of that blood was your own.

 

You find yourself ashamed to admit you still have a fascination with blood. The bright scarlet that seemed to project against just about any surface it landed upon was always an object for curiosity. How easy it was to kill a man by simply draining him of his lifeblood, you used to think, as you watched them die in front of you.

 

Blood, you mused, was oxymoronic in its own ways, it was both a symbol of purity and impurity all at once. You often related it back to yourself as a child, and still do even now. You have pure blood in the sense of lineage. Your father, as vile of a man he was, was Kazekage before you. And you have claimed his spot as village head.

 

And yet, you have been impure since you first killed your uncle. Maybe even before, as you were the cause for your mother’s death, and you’ve always harbored a demon inside of you. So you doubt any saints above would give you pity points for that fact when you stood in front of their gates.

 

But despite all of your sins, you would never wish your life upon another soul. Which is probably what stirred you to act when you found your future son curled in on himself, surrounded by black wisps of power he could not control. The sight was so painfully familiar- and it almost seemed like you had traveled back in time and were watching your life through the eyes of an outsider.

 

So, as you walked through the cloud of dust and metal, slowly and steadily, the small shrouds of magnets tearing through your shirt and stinging your skin, you seemed to see yourself, not the poor black-haired child in the metal-typhoon’s center. His features seemed to morph, hair no longer black but instead a dusty red. Dressed in rags and loose cloth, sand billowing around you. Sobbing, sobbing, sobbing. Because sister and brother feared you and daddy was mean and uncle was dead.

 

And then you looked up and met the blue eyes of your younger self. And you saw yourself scowl and prepare an attack that you knew you would make no move to dodge. But as the sharp needles of magnets stabbed into the flesh of your back, the image of yourself faded. And the boy there was not you.

 

You threw yourself forward and wrapped your arms around the child in what you hoped was a comforting embrace. Allowing your sand to cover you and the boy in a protective barrier. Because the sand would protect you, and it would protect this boy, too. You were sure of it.

 

The magnets dissipated, along with your sand, and you pulled away to look at the child, the red paint on his face was smeared with dirt and tears, and his lip quivered. And you made up your mind right then and there.

 

This boy was your responsibility, now. And you would not let him go down the dark hole you once did. Not as long as there was still blood running through your veins.

 

So you grasped his shoulders, and looked him in the eye, “I will help you control your power,” you said to him.

 

And the boy let out a relieved sob, before crushing himself once again to you; exhausted and unwilling to let go of the small comfort you could give him.

 

So you scooped him in your arms and stood, holding him close to your chest, allowing to curl into the crook of your neck and let out a gasping, wobbly breath against your skin. But as the boy fell asleep, and you walked to your home, you couldn’t help but doubt yourself.

 

Your only experience was fatherhood came in the form of your own father. But there was no way in hell you would treat this boy the same way your sire treated you. No assassins, no hateful looks or attacks. But you were related to Rasa by blood, and what if you turned into him as well? What if you tortured this child the way he had you? What if Kankuro or Temari met the same fate as your uncle?

 

No, no, you are not your father, and Kankuro is not Yashamaru. You will not twist yourself into a different kind of demon just because you were to raise this child. He would not have the same fate as you. You would be sure of it.

 

So you walked, the sleeping weight of the nameless boy settled comfortably in your arms, your shoes leaving grooves in the soft sand beneath you. The heat bearing down upon your back.

 

The sand killed your uncle, your citizens, children, innocents. But its reign of bloodshed had ended. And it would not kill the slumbering boy in your arms. It would only shield, protect. And raise him as it had once done you.

 

So you walked, with only a promise, a smile, and your son.