Obscured Apathy

By: firefly

Note: Two fics in one week?! I must be on a roll. Anyway, I got the idea for this little ficlet when I was admiring Gaara's pretty hair, and I started wondering who cut it for him…and this fic sort of popped up. Hope you like it! Please leave a review! Thanx, have a nice day.

Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto.

Obscured Apathy

Temari sighed, flipping the sad remains of what started out as dinner into the trash. Grudgingly, she walked over to the cupboard and grabbed the sugar-ridden cereal that Kankuro ate almost every morning.

Ever since they got back from Konoha, Temari had taken a step forward and decided to play the mother figure, since Gaara had lost most of his sociopath tendencies after his defeat from Naruto.

The idea hadn't appealed to Kankuro at all, mostly because he was one year younger than her. Not to mention he was at a stage in his life where the idea of sibling affection and caring seemed repulsive.

And because Temari couldn't cook to save her life.

…Hence the burnt rice cakes.

Grimacing at the fat content on the sugary cereal, Temari threw it back into the cupboard and decided that this was a dinner she'd skip for once. Kankuro had a box of the sugary crap in his bedroom, so she didn't have to worry about him.

Gaara, however…

Rather guiltily, Temari wandered out onto the porch, the cool evening air of the desert blowing her blonde hair out of her tired eyes. Slumping against the wooden bench, she wondered why, despite Gaara's improved mentality, they remained so far apart.

He's my baby brother…she would remind herself furiously whenever he walked by, and she would feel compelled to call out to him, to say anything…but years of living in fear of her own flesh and blood had left her speechless around him.

And now, even though that fear should have dissipated, she kept her distance.

Temari blinked, as a tear suddenly fell from her eyes and hit the sand-strewn planks. She took a deep breath, blinking away the tears as a stony expression overtook her features, lips sealing to choke back the sob that threatened to escape her.

I'm horrible…she thought to herself repeatedly. I can't even talk to my own brother…and he must hate me for it…

All this pain Gaara's suffered…I could have at least hugged him once…if not tell him everything would be okay…

"What do they need me for?" Temari whispered to herself, drawing circles in the sand with her toes. "Kankuro's made it clear he wants nothing to do with me, and…" she bowed her head, massaging her scalp as a shuddering sigh escaped her lips.

She remained there for a few more minutes, pulling herself together as she hastily wiped the tears away. Feeling slightly ashamed with herself for crying, Temari slowly stood and wandered back inside.

Once inside, she moved a few things back to their rightful spots, and then collapsed on a worn sofa in the living room. She closed her eyes briefly, only to open them again when someone came trumping through the front door.

Kankuro glanced sideways at her, the two exchanging glances as a greeting, and then he turned and headed into the hallway, retreating to his room.

"Don't disturb me," he called back, and she blinked slowly in response.

Closing her eyes again, she lay there in a state halfway between sleep and consciousness. Only when she felt another presence in the room did Temari open her eyes again, after she spoke.

"Checking to see if I'm alive, Kankuro?" She muttered bitterly, arms lying listlessly by her sides.

Gaara stared at her, his face expressionless as she opened her eyes, blinking repeatedly to verify what she was seeing. For a moment, neither of them said anything, Temari's surprise rendering her speechless.

He blinked once, owlishly, as if to snap her from her stupefied state. Temari sat up abruptly, shivering in spite of herself. She had left herself completely vulnerable to any thieves that may have passed by.

And because her youngest brother was suddenly here, returning after three days from God knows where.

"Gaara," she breathed, her voice little more than a murmur as she rested her throbbing head momentarily against her clenched fist. Taking a deep breath, she glanced up at him in slight concern, noticing that he hadn't moved.

"Are you all right…?"

He nodded once, eyes resting intently on her face as the barely noticeable crease in his brow receded. Temari winced, wondering if he was in a bad mood, but the expression on his face seemed to suggest otherwise.

If she hadn't known better, she could have sworn that he looked worried.

Gaara continued to stare, seemingly scrutinizing her.

He had returned a few minutes ago, and upon entering the house sensed someone in the living room. Soundlessly, he walked in and stopped, eyes focusing on a limp figure lying against the sofa.

Taking a step closer, he realized who it was.

Temari lay there, face pale and drawn, her arms lying limply by her sides. She hadn't moved.

He waited a few seconds for her to blink away her sleep and acknowledge him, to sit up and look annoyed with herself for falling asleep so carelessly. But she remained motionless.

Gaara waited some more, and as he gradually noticed how still she was, how drained she looked; an unknown and troubling feeling slowly emerged within him. Taking another step closer, he felt his brow crease as the feeling became more potent.

This was beyond annoyance and anger; emotions he recognized. This was something that made everything else fade into the background, and he felt compelled to reach out and rouse her.

Just as he realized this and moved forward, Temari spoke.

"Checking to see if I'm alive, Kankuro?"

She opened her eyes, and the troubling feeling within him disappeared immediately. She noticed him with a look of surprise on her face, and then put her head against her fist.

"Gaara," she whispered.

 "Are you all right…?"

Now she looked troubled.

Slowly, he found himself nodding and her expression cleared, somewhat.

Temari shifted rather uncomfortably under her brother's intense gaze and slowly stood, standing off to the side as she spoke.

"Are you hungry? I'll make you dinner if you want…"


She bit her lip at his answer, her previous guilt returning full force. Bracing herself, Temari turned and glanced at him, trying not to lower her eyes from his.

"Where have you been?"

Gaara tilted his head to the side slightly, eyes resting on some point behind her.

"Somewhere," he answered cryptically.

Temari stared at him in exasperation, and blinked when she noticed how long Gaara's hair had gotten. The downy maroon bangs were on the verge of obstructing his vision, and judging from the windswept look of it, Temari guessed that he had moved them aside repeatedly.

He needed a cut, and she had the time.

"Gaara," she said quietly, ignoring the fact that he was ignoring her. "Do you…want me to cut your hair for you?"

He glanced at her, and Temari nodded timidly.

"Yes," he finally answered, and she couldn't help but smile slightly when he turned away from her and walked towards the bathroom.

I'm going to have to send a Thank You card to that Naruto kid…she thought to herself as she rolled up her sleeves and followed.

There were no words between them as Temari grabbed the scissors from above the vanity mirror and Gaara removed his gourd and scarf, setting them aside carefully. Temari dragged the haggard looking mat into the hallway, and then went off to find a stool.

When she returned, Gaara was leaning against the counter, shirtless. She noticed with slight interest and amusement that he had carefully folded his shirt and mesh net, leaving them on the counter.

She set the stool down in the middle of the tiled floor and turned to moisten a sponge with warm water as Gaara took his place. Taking the scissors in one hand and the wet sponge in the other, Temari turned and eyed the unruly red hair.

It had reached past the nape of his neck.

One improvement, she noticed with a grim smile as she dabbed the water against his hair, was that there was no more dried blood to wash out.

"Is it warm enough?" She asked softly, his hair darkening and matting against his pale skin.


Dropping the sponge into the sink, she reached for the comb and bit her lip, deciding to start at the back. Running the comb through his hair, she stopped at the area right above the nape of his neck.

She started cutting, the steady snip snip sounds affecting Gaara like they always did. He lowered his head slightly, shoulders drooping a bit as he relaxed. The vermilion strands fell against his back, curled from the warm water.

Temari brushed them away and started cutting up higher, cropping the long hair until it stuck out in short spikes. Nodding to herself in satisfaction, Temari brushed any more of the stray hairs off his neck and back.

"I'm done on the back, Gaara," she said over her shoulder as she returned to the sponge in the sink. She watched him turn in the mirror's reflection, trying to mask her smile as he reached up and ran his palm over the back of his head.

Seemingly satisfied, he raised his head and watched her as she wet the sponge again. When she turned around, Gaara spoke.

"Temari," he said, to grab her attention as she picked up the comb again.

She blinked. "Yes, Gaara?"

"Where is Kankuro?"

"He's in his room."

Temari watched him, waiting for any more of his questions, but he said nothing more. Stifling a sigh, Temari wondered why he asked odd questions like that when he plainly didn't give a damn about them.

But maybe, and this is a big maybe… she thought to herself. He wants to know because he cares.

Dismissing the thought for now, Temari approached the stool again and started to dab the warm water against his hair, her brow furrowing slightly. His hair was matting against his forehead, contrasting like blood against his pale skin.

Her features softened slightly as Gaara closed his eyes, drops of water running over his darkened lids; the darkness that had risen from years of never sleeping. The pity that suddenly amounted nearly overwhelmed her as she realized the extent of damage that had been done to her younger brother.

And for a moment, the hate for her father had doubled into a vicious, abhorring emotion, and she had to pause momentarily to dig her nails into her palms, letting the pain distract her from the numbing hatred.

Taking a deep breath, Temari focused on the task at hand and collected herself. She started at the sides, cutting steadily as Gaara slipped once more into his trance like stupor, eyes remaining closed.

Standing in front of him now, Temari paused, not wanting to disturb the momentary peace her brother had found. Hesitantly, she reached forward, lightly cupping his chin to raise his head.

To her surprise, he complied without a reaction, eyes only opening briefly to glance at her before they closed again.

Relieved, Temari measured the bang length between her fingers and starting cutting again, taking her time to prolong Gaara's peaceful demeanor. A sudden realization hit her as she carefully trimmed the last bit.

Gaara was a full-fledged Sand-Nin, and he did have a sort of fluctuating salary despite most of his absences.

So why…she wondered, casting a glance at him. Does he still get me to do this for him?

Hell would freeze over before Kankuro let Temari near him with a pair of scissors, and he usually took a trip to the barber when the time arose. She herself did the same…

The cost was minimal, and as far as she knew money meant nothing to Gaara. He'd have no problem spending it, and the barber would probably do a better job than her. But no, her youngest brother always asked…no, told Temari to cut his hair, despite all that.

A warm feeling rose within her, a sudden affection taking over her thoughts as she glanced at her brother. Too stubborn to admit the possibility of Gaara wanting to spend this small amount of time with her, Temari stepped back.

"I'm done," Temari choked out, surprised at the strangled sound of her voice.

Gaara slowly blinked his eyes open, raising his head to stare at his reflection in the mirror. Looking satisfied, he brushed himself free of any stray hairs as Temari watched him, eyes narrowed in thought.

He had a tired look about him, his movements somewhat slow and laborious. Still feeling concerned and blessed with a new sense of affection, Temari handed him his shirt as he turned.

He gave her a contemplative stare before taking the shirt from her, slipping it over his head before he turned to leave.

Temari sighed, deciding that it was still too early for Gaara to start appreciating all that she was doing for their small family. With that thought, she grabbed a broom and started sweeping.

Ten minutes later, she was carrying the stool back to the kitchen when she noticed that Gaara was standing in the living room, holding something in his hands. She set down the stool and slowly walked up beside him.

The snow globe she had picked up from some bazaar was being turned upside down, the fake falling snow reflecting in Gaara's aqua coloured eyes.

Pleased that he seemed to like it, and not wanting their relationship to grow more distant than it had, Temari smiled at him.

"Do you like it Gaara? I bought it for you, as a present," Temari said, her voice sincere since she had, in fact, thought that it would interest Gaara. He blinked, raising his head in surprise.

There was no big grin of expectance on her face. She only wore a timid and somewhat sad smile, fingers entwined together as she lowered her eyes to the floor.

"Thank you, Temari."

Temari's eyes widened and she raised her head, as if to make sure that it was Gaara that had spoken. He was staring at her, his expression less indifferent than normal. It seemed to convey a cross between confusion and appreciation.

"You're welcome," she said automatically, her voice shaking slightly as her eyes flitted to the tattoo that became visible again.


They needed so much of it now…

Tears of resolution flooded her eyes as she lowered her gaze to the ground again, whereas Gaara turned to leave for his room.

He might kill me for this…Temari thought…but it's better late than never…

"G-Gaara, wait…"

He stopped and turned, blinking when he saw the tears streaming down her face, hands trembling by her sides. He set the globe down momentarily, his brow furrowing again in a feeling that was not anger or annoyance.

He took a step forward.

"Temari," he started, his voice still toneless. "You're crying."

Slowly, she took shaky steps towards him, only to reach out and brush away some stray hairs away from his forehead, her eyes focused on the tattoo there.

"Forgive me, Gaara," she whispered, lowering her eyes to his. "For not doing this earlier."

His gaze was troubled at her sudden change in mood, and although he didn't show it, Gaara wondered if he was to blame for it.

Temari erased this notion when she suddenly put her arms around him, enveloping him in a warm embrace. Temari closed her eyes, too relieved by their contact to fear his reaction.

Gaara's eyes were wide with surprise, the side of his face pressing against Temari's shoulder as she hugged him, the suddenness of it pinning his arms to his sides. A tear fell against the side of his face as Temari sniffed, her hand coming to rest against the back of his head.

"I'm sorry Gaara," she whispered, as he lowered his gaze to her shaking arms, the regular coldness of his eyes fading slightly. "I'm sorry I never…"

She trailed off, her words catching in her throat.

"Temari," she heard him murmur against her shoulder, as her grip loosened slightly. He pulled back from her, looking up at her as she lowered her eyes, now red from crying.

 A slight gasp left her lips when she felt his thumb touch her face, wiping the tears from her flushed skin.


She raised her eyes as he repeated her name, the slightest hint of perturbation visible in his creased brow.

"Don't cry."

It didn't matter that his voice lacked normal empathy, or that the words weren't emotional…just the fact that he hadn't left her to her misery was good enough for Temari to halt the deluge of tears.

She let her arms fall away from him and she took a step back, eyes averted.

"Sorry," she whispered, feeling his gaze on her. "I didn't know what I was thinking…"

Temari moved back, lowering herself to the sofa, eyes gazing blankly at the wall after the sudden outburst of emotion. She didn't react when Gaara took a seat near her, the depression of his weight going unnoticed.

She blinked however, when Gaara leaned forward, turning the snow globe upside down and placing it in her hands. Temari stared at it, blinking away the fogginess in her eyes as the fake snow fell on the cozy little house in the centre.

"That looks like our house…" she found herself whispering as Gaara nodded in agreement.

She leaned her aching head against the soft, weathered cushions on the armrest as she turned the snow globe again, watching it through half-lidded eyes. Gaara shifted, taking the globe back from her hand as her eyes closed, sleep overtaking her body.

Gaara leaned back against the armrest, exhaustion evident in his eyes as he watched the snow settle at the bottom of the globe. He blinked as his eyes closed halfway, his grip loosening slightly on the globe.

Just for a minute…

Temari opened her eyes partially at the sound of a soft thump, and she raised her head to see that globe was lying on carpet, inches from where Gaara's hand had dropped it.

A tender smile graced her features as she noticed that Gaara had fallen asleep against the armrest, his arm lying limply over the sofa's edge. Quietly, she got to her feet, pulling a quilt her mother had made 12 years ago from the closet.

She draped it over Gaara, watching him sleep for a few seconds before she straightened and crept off to her room, experiencing a contentment she hadn't felt in a long time.

Forget the card…she thought smiling, as she threw herself in bed.

I'm gonna send Naruto a box of chocolates…

NOTE: Gaara's an insomniac because of Shukaku, right? I have no idea what happens to the whole insomnia thing after Naruto defeats him, sooo…I'm just going to pretend that sleeping becomes possible for him after his defeat. Kay, get it? Got it? Good!

Please leave a review!