"GAARA!"

Gaara paused to turn and acknowledge the person who owned that voice. He clearly saw Temari and although he had stopped completely, she was still charging at him, full speed.

Gotcha.

Slowing a bit so she could get a better aim, Temari gathered her courage and did something she dared not think of ever doing in all the years she knew him.

She reached out and firmly grasped his hand, like his arm was some sort of baton in a medley relay.

For that brief moment, Gaara focused on the electricity that flowed between his own and the hand of his sister. This unfamiliar contact with another human was strange enough to throw him off guard.

And then came the pain.

Temari didn't really bother to stop her momentum as she jerked his body around to face a different direction.

"We have to turn direction just a bit, and follow the course of the wind!" The wind would cover up a good chunk of their trail...at least she hoped.

Temari let go of his hand after they both faced a new direction so she could quickly assume position as the leader. Her knowledge of the terrain was decent at best, but she had a better idea of the area than Gaara did. However, an exact idea of where they were heading was beyond Temari.

"If it's anyplace besides Sand Village, we'll live," she convinced herself.

Gaara brushed aside the pain in his arm, and for once, complied and retreated away with his older sister.

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"Why did it have to come to this?" she whispered to herself.

Running for several hours left plenty of time for Temari to think of the events that had happened over the past 24 hours. The news of her father's murder was a shock, and despite the years of the cold and mechanical way he treated herself and her siblings, she felt a pang of remorse. She thought of the unfair judgment that the council decided, and how Baki hadn't done anything at all to prove their innocence in the involvement with their father's demise. Temari's thoughts then drifted over to Kankuro. True, he was an ass sometimes with an arrogance to match the level of his hot-temper, but he was also another family member she now lost. There were now doubts of not having dragged Kankuro along when she left the border of her home, but honestly, she didn't want to pull him into something he might regret.

"Let's stop here." Gaara broke the silence.

Temari, coming to an eventual halt, showed her agreement with a nod of her head.

The wind had died a little; night had completely fallen. Tired physically and mentally, she set herself against a scraggly and lonesome tree. She tried kicking up her senses a couple notches before pausing to take a breath and sigh. She looked up into the night sky.

"We're missing-nins now..." Temari stated.

Nothing awaited them now except a tedious life of being chased forever .

Gaara took a seat at the base of the tree opposite of Temari, not saying a word.

At times like these, she wished she knew what he was thinking since he preferred to stay silent most of the time.

Temari, determined to keep watch, focused on staying awake. But the day took her toll on her body. In the past 72 hours, she had to put up a grueling fight with that pony-tailed brat as well that almost impossible-to-defeat Uchiha. Not to mention trying to steer clear of the battle between a frog and the raccoon god. To top it off, they were constantly on the run, retreating back to Sand village. Years of training had paid off but she knew when her body had been pushed beyond the limits. She was deathly tired but didn't want to show any signs of weakness to her younger sibling, especially during a crucial time like this.

Several hours passed as they both tried to regain their strength and Temari could feel the soreness settling in her legs. She'd be feeling the full-blown pain in a few more hours.

"How do you feel, Gaara?"

"Waiting on you."

"Hn...Still the same Gaara," she thought to herself. He seemed to be fine, even though he was left a bloody mess just a couple days ago. In fact, he was in worse shape than her when they left Konoha. And now, Gaara seemed to be doing better than she was. Either that or he just able to hide it very well. Temari felt inferior. Maybe she'd just end up hindering Gaara after all.

So she decided to stand up, (despite the protests of her body) and felt it was best to continue where they had left off.

A few seconds later, a horrible dread overcame Temari...

She barely felt it, but she definitely sensed the chakra of another person. Temari's senses flared, her hand reaching for the gigantic fan strapped to her sash. Her eyes searched the area where she finally discerned the silhouette of a man approaching. Her chakra was waning, and without her chakra, her attacks with the fan may not have much effect. She was absolutely determined to give the intruder hell. She prepared herself for the worse and if need be, she would forfeit her life if it meant helping her brother!

"Gaara. They've come." Temari whispered hastily.

Gaara was already on his feet, merely staring at the oncoming figure. Something was off. It wasn't normal for a professional ninja to make such an outward maneuver. Plus he wasn't in a battle charge but casually walking towards the two.

"Temari, relax."

"Yo!" The stranger finally spoke, approaching with his left hand raised in a greeting manner; his other hand jabbed in his pocket.

"K...Kankuro?!" Temari gritted her teeth, annoyed at the false alarm. The moonlight slowly revealed Kankuro's familiar face.

"Aaah...it's only you," Temari said with a relief, she dropped her fan and propped herself against the tree trunk.

Kankuro turned towards Gaara to acknowledge his presence. Gaara did nothing in return except keep his arms crossed.

"You look like you've been chased to hell and back," He said to Temari.

Temari just stared back tiredly. His calmness was unusual. He didn't have the firepower or absolute confidence like Gaara to back up his placid attitude.

Kankuro sensed her confusion and answered her unasked question.

"Sand won't follow you. They're not suicidal."

Temari paused to reflect on his statement as she suddenly came to and thought of the obvious truth that Sand would never pursue Gaara. Not as long as he had Shukaku and his total command over the sand. Even if a platoon were sent to pursue Gaara, they'd only end up being crushed by the landscape, should Gaara desire it so. How hadn't she thought of this?

"Ooo! Even looks like you can actually miscalculate things a bit, eh Temari?" Kankuro bent down a little to look at Temari's downcast (and flushed) face.

Temari smacked him over the head with her fan.

He fell face first into the sand. He turned only his head to look back up at Temari's scowling expression.

"Feh heh! Still the sensitive bitch!" Kankuro grinned as he tried to rub more salt into her wound.

"Be silent!"

Gaara simply watched from a safe distance and observed the both of them squabble with each other. If they were going to cause so much commotion the entire time they were with them, perhaps it would be better to kill them both on the spot.

After Temari had finished beating Kankuro up, she recomposed herself to turn towards the eastern direction.

A few silent moments passed before Temari spoke again, this time in a very serious tone.

"Kankuro? There's no turning back," Temari said. She had already come to terms with this but she wasn't sure what Kankuro's motives were. She wanted to be absolutely sure he knew what the consequences of being a missing-nin were.

"I didn't make my decision half-assed," Kankuro said, brushing off the sand that collected between the creases in his cloths. Gaara wasn't his favorite person in the world but considering how his own people were so ready to kill Gaara, he didn't want to hang around the likes of them.

"So I guess you can say I'm in, whether you like it or not."

She looked over her shoulder to look directly at Kankuro, and it looked like they had come to a silent agreement.

Temari then switched her attention to Gaara. Gaara looked back at her, expecting her to say something. Instead, she just gave him a peculiar smirk, like she there was some sort of secret hidden behind that smile. It wasn't normal for her to act so friendly.

This bothered him. But he would tolerate it for now.

"Let's go then, shall we?"

The three continued their departure.

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Sorry for the abrupt ending! ^^;;;;