Note: Damn it all, I've developed an affinity for Sand Sib fics. Well, this one came to me in the middle of the night, and I found myself wanting to write some angst and drama again. Anyway, I hope you enjoy, and remember to leave a review at the end! By the way, I don't own Naruto.
Thanx. Have a nice day.
You…could be my unintended
Choice…to live my life extended
You, could be the one I'll always love…
You, could be the one who listens to, my deepest inquisitions
You, could be the one I'll always love…
I'll be there…as soon as I can
But I'm busy mending broken…pieces of…the life I had before…
Gaara watched the sky, contemplative eyes roaming the blue and green sparks that exploded on the horizon. A shrill scream pierced the air as the lights rocketed into the sky, exploding in an array of brightly coloured stars.
New Year's…the only time of the year fireworks would blossom within the night sky.
Gaara shifted on the seat of the veranda, drawing his crimson sash around him as the cold breeze drifted over his huddled form. Shadows played over half his face, the rest of his body concealed within the darkness as he observed the fireworks.
The faint sounds of raucous celebrating could be heard from the village, and Gaara closed his eyes as the sounds reached his ears.
He faintly wondered if Kankuro was one of the people amongst the celebrating, since Temari was never one to participate in public events. There was nothing for either of the three to celebrate, as they all lived far from the village and were treated more as outcasts than anything.
But if Gaara was the deranged psychotic in the family, then Kankuro was definitely the most delusional. Delusional for believing that he could ever blend in permanently with the regular crowd he longed to be with.
A shutter creaked quietly near his shadowed frame as Gaara waited for anymore of the brightly coloured lights in the sky. A faint but wild cheering told him that the show had come to an end, and he slowly got to his feet, walking soundlessly back into the house.
His hand roamed over the wall, flicking off any light switch it encountered as he wandered the halls. There was complete and utter silence within the house, and he stood in the darkness for a few seconds, letting his eyes adjust before he wandered over to the living room.
He settled himself against the sofa, briefly wondering when his siblings would return. Not so much out of concern or love…because Gaara of the Sand knew neither of these things. It was a year after the failed Chunnin exams, and Shukaku had grown quite controllable.
Gaara, however, had lapsed into a mode of silence, and although some of the fear his siblings possessed around him dissipated, there was an aching emptiness in their exchanged glances. Even worse than before, it seemed.
He didn't know what to feel anymore. Perhaps this was a time of recuperation, and one of wondering.
What was love?
He still couldn't answer the vexing question.
Looking at his siblings, one could say Kankuro was the same as always, though slightly less wary around his brother. And Temari, now sixteen, acting as though she was nineteen…
Gaara wondered where his sister could possibly be, since she had disappeared nearly five hours ago without a word.
The oldest Sand sibling looked worn out, more than anything else. Gaara noticed this from the way she dragged her feet, and from the sluggish manner in which she conducted her life.
Was he concerned…?
Gaara didn't know.
But he knew he was curious.
There was no explanation for her behaviour, but any normal human could tell that she was clearly in a state of deep depression. Gaara was not one of these normal people…and Kankuro was too idle to actually stick around long enough to notice.
Gaara didn't know why she was like that.
But he noticed.
Closing his eyes, Gaara leaned his head back against the worn sofa, fingers absentmindedly stroking his velvety sash.
A month ago when he had walked into the kitchen, looking to pack some food for the short journey he planned to take to some unknown place…that was when he noticed it for real.
Temari was cutting vegetables, and he found his gaze drifting to the knife that rhythmically drummed against the cutting board, the fingers of Temari's left hand coming in close proximity to the blade.
He didn't know why he didn't look away, or why he didn't warn her as she continued cutting, completely oblivious as the blade bit into her skin. The pain snapped her from her stupor, and he saw her raise her hand, eyes widening slightly at the blood.
She took a step back from the counter and stood there for one whole minute, staring as her blood dripped down her fingers, falling silently to the floor.
Shukaku stirred within him at the smell of blood, but Gaara forcefully pushed him away. That was when his sister finally looked at him, her face completely expressionless as the bleeding hand drifted back to her side.
"Do you need help packing, Gaara?"
Gaara just stared at the hand, aqua eyes trailing meticulously over the crimson droplets that dripped steadily to the floor. Shukaku shifted restlessly again, and Gaara clenched his fists as he pushed him back in a near fury.
He didn't want it.
His stomach lurched at the sight of it, and he quickly turned and left from the kitchen, completely ignoring his sister. That certainly was a disquieting moment.
Gaara, not wanting to see blood.
What the hell was happening?
His head hurt at the memory, and he was glad of the distraction that suddenly caught his eye through the window. A figure, indiscernible in the darkness, walking clumsily along the path, disappearing around the veranda to enter the house.
No robber or thief was stupid enough to make his presence known when Gaara was home.
It was either Kankuro, or Temari.
And judging from the unsteady steps, Gaara concluded that it was Kankuro, and that he was very drunk. The legal age of drinking in the sand village was fifteen, and Gaara was sure Kankuro had taken full advantage of his age.
His gaze did not waver from the wall as the front door opened, and the figure stumbled in, breathing hard from the long walk. A faint light flickered on, and the figure came into the living room.
Gaara narrowed his eyes slightly as he turned his head, only to blink in surprise.
Temari shuffled slowly over the carpet, unconsciously dropping one of those annoying noise-makers to the ground. She didn't even notice her silent brother sitting directly across from where she was standing.
Gaara said nothing, taking in his sibling's rumpled appearance. There was some wet sand clinging to her clothes, and her hair had come undone, most likely caused by the numerous falls she took on her way back to the house.
Temari stood there for a moment, letting her breathing slow before she looked up at the clock.
What sounded like a mix between a hiccup, sob, and a laugh escaped her throat as she stared at the time with wide, shining eyes. Her hand came to her forehead, and she swept her hair from her eyes, massaging her scalp.
"Oh God…" she whispered, and he could see that she was smiling slightly.
Another sob-like laugh escaped her, and she staggered slightly to her left, fingers twisting into her hair. She staggered again, then swayed dangerously on the spot, breathing slowly as she held her head.
Gaara decided to alert her of his presence, before she could collapse on him.
The blonde kunoichi's hands let go of her hair, and she slowly looked in the direction of his murmur. She blinked foggily at him, and Gaara stared back at her, nonchalant.
"Gaara…" she whispered, somewhat hoarsely as she smiled a wavering smile. "Happy New Year, Gaara…"
He just stared at her, expressionless.
Temari nodded slowly, her face becoming quite serious. "Yeah…s'my first time, too. I…I don't think I like it though. I need to…sit down…" a lilt could be heard in her voice as she shuffled towards the other end of the sofa and collapsed against the seat.
"Is Kankuro home?" Temari asked in a mumble, her head lolling back against the sofa.
Gaara said nothing.
"I'll take that as a no…" Temari breathed in sharply when she suddenly turned her body to face her brother, that slight smile overtaking her features again.
Gaara looked straight ahead at the wall, aware of Temari's gaze on his face. But there was nothing for him to say, especially to someone who wasn't even coherent in mind.
"Are you happy that it's over, Gaara?" Temari whispered, a thick haze clouding her vision as she smiled.
He finally turned to look at her, giving her an annoyed and questioning look.
"That year…that stupid year is over…aren't you happy? I think I am," she declared softly, waving her hand carelessly. "But, but you know? I have this feeling…right here…" her voice trailed off into a soft whisper, as she placed her hand over her chest.
"I have this feeling…this year won't be any different. In fact…in fact I think it'll just get worse." She laughed. "I'm really drunk, aren't I?"
Gaara narrowed his eyes at her unstructured sentences, his glare simply telling her to keep her mouth shut. But under the influence of alcohol, neither Gaara nor Temari knew whether she would pay heed, or listen for that matter.
She said his name, and he raised his eyes to hers, noticing the tears gathering in her eyes. She didn't even seem aware of them as they spilled over her cheeks, heavily and relentlessly.
"Gaara…" her voice was a weak murmur. "Why do I feel so sad?"
Silence was his answer, and Temari let out a small, faint laugh.
"It's okay…you never answer me anyway. But at least you're listening…nobody else ever listens to me." She swallowed hard, breath hitching in her throat as the tears continued to flow.
"I don't know how much longer I can take it, Gaara. It hurts so much; every day…in my chest…in my head…doesn't it hurt you? Doesn't it…hurt Kankuro?"
"What hurts?" Gaara's voice cut through her hitched breathing, quiet and monotonous.
"The pain hurts," she whimpered now, finally realizing where she was at the sound of Gaara's voice. "The pain of having nothing to look forward to the next day…my life is shit…and I can't…" she trailed off, bowing her head as she wiped at her tears.
"I can't take it anymore…"
Temari buried her face into her hands as Gaara watched her, only the sound of her soft, hitched breathing audible in the dark room. She sniffed a few times, running her sleeve over her eyes repeatedly as she raised her head again, lowering her hands.
A bitter smile had worked its way onto her face, and she spoke without looking at him.
"But I shouldn't be one to complain…you've suffered the most Gaara…I know I'll never understand how much pain you've felt," she said softly. "But I'm not strong like you…and unlike you…" she paused again, standing and wavering on her feet.
"…there's no sand to protect me…"
Gaara watched her slowly stagger out of the room and down the hall, brow furrowing in confusion. Her shadow disappeared from sight, and he found himself staring off in her direction, wondering what she had meant.
It was a few minutes after she left when the true meaning of her words hit him. A sharp stab of pain exploded in his head, the memory of himself attempting to cut his hand flashing unexpectedly in his mind's eye.
He closed his eyes tightly, clenching his jaw to keep from crying out as Yashamaru's smiling face invaded his thoughts, soon to be followed by a blinking picture of himself stabbing at his hand, only to be protected by the sand.
The pain disappeared as his sister's name invaded his thoughts, and he suddenly found himself on his feet, walking quickly down the hall towards the stairs, her words echoing in his head.
…there's no sand to protect me…
He ascended the stairs faster than normal, for a reason he couldn't understand. His pulse thrummed deafeningly within his temples, loud and insistent as he crossed the hallway, steps away from Temari's door.
Shukaku stirred within him as a familiar coppery scent invaded his senses, the smell arousing and sickening at the same time. His hand rested on her doorknob, and he pushed it open, stepping inside.
Her bed was empty; the room was dark save for a dim light from a lamp near her bed. He stood there for a few seconds, rooted to the spot as he fought to control Shukaku, the scent of blood momentarily overwhelming him.
She was nearby…but where?
His question was answered the second he stepped through her doorway.
Turning at the sound of her voice, he stopped, staring at her motionless figure sitting against the wall near the closet, arms draped listlessly by her sides. His pulse quickened as he neared her, eyes wandering over the dark blood stain smeared on the carpet.
He stood in front of her, having eyes only for her blood. It blossomed from her right wrist, emerging from a thin, shallow cut within the delicate skin.
There was a thundering in his ears as he slowly crouched in front of her, the dim light doing nothing to hide the life liquid that seeped ever so slowly from her wrist. His brow was furrowed, his body was trembling, his breath quickening as he unconsciously beckoned his sand from his room, all the while leaning closer towards her.
Temari watched with hazy eyes as the familiar look of bloodlust overtook his features, and she did nothing but watch as he leaned in closer, eyes intent on her blood.
"I couldn't do it…" she whispered softly, titling her head back against the wall. "I just wanted to feel for a while…but if you want it, Gaara…go ahead and take it…sabaku taisou is painless, right…?"
Sand crept across the floor, sweeping and rising in soft tendrils around him as his pulse thudded within his head. He stared at her arm, the sand just waiting for him to let it consume her. She came so willingly…the sand could take her without trouble…
Shukaku was laughing.
Take it. Take it. Take it.
Taste it. Feel it. Need it.
Listen. Listen to Mother.
My Mother is dead…
Satisfy me, Gaara dear. Take it.
Take it. Take it. Take it!
Gaara lurched away from her, using all his self-control to tear his gaze from her bleeding arm as his head exploded with pain again. He grabbed at either side of his throbbing head, trying to bite back the cry that threatened to escape his lips.
Temari sat up, eyes widening with surprise and alarm as Gaara turned away from her, gasping in pain as he grasped his head.
"Gaara?" she reached for him, concern overshadowing her intoxication as she reached towards him.
"Don't touch me!" He hissed at her, glaring at her from the corner of his eyes as she paused, hand outstretched towards him. She watched him for a few seconds, a sad expression overtaking her features as held his head, his eyes closing as the pain slowly subsided.
"I won't hurt you," Temari whispered softly, sounding hurt as he recoiled from her, the sand rising to shield him.
She watched him, looking pained as he finally got a hold of himself, the sand drifting to the ground around him. He breathed hard, still reeling from the explosive headache, but he managed to choke out his question anyway.
"Why did you do that?"
Temari watched him, looking confused and sad as she raised her cut wrist to her eyes.
"I wanted to feel…I wasn't sure if I wanted to die…I'm afraid of dying," she whispered, running her index finger over the cut. The blood flow had ceased, and dry flakes of crimson caked onto her skin.
Temari raised her eyes to him, looking at him with surprise and confusion again.
"Why didn't you take it?"
Her simple question made another sharp stab of pain erupt in his head, and he faintly asked himself the same thing, wondering why he didn't obey the sand.
"Shut up," he croaked, his voice hoarse from pain. "Just shut up."
A few moments passed in silence as Gaara gathered his bearings and slumped against her bed frame, his head still throbbing with a dull pain. He hadn't lost control like that in months…but Temari had come so willingly…so stupidly…
"I'm sorry," she said, her voice a near-whimper as the tears gathered in her eyes again. "I'm sorry, Gaara…I didn't want to hurt you…"
"Don't speak," he said quietly.
Temari couldn't help but cry as she reached forward again, only to have him turn his head away from her. A year's worth of pain streamed down her cheeks, her heart clenching in soundless agony as her head swam with regret and intoxication.
The tears stopped as soon as they came, the alcohol pulling her emotions into a tangle. She leaned back against the wall, her shining green eyes focused on the silent figure in front of her. Gaara was unstable now…maybe he wouldn't hesitate to kill her if she attempted anything.
Maybe…hopefully…he wouldn't hesitate.
Maybe her voice would drive him to do it…maybe she could vent her pain before he ended it for her…maybe she'd hug him…love him before she died…
"Gaara," she murmured, moving her gaze to the wall. "Do you know what's happened to us? We've drifted…even farther from each other in this past year. Kankuro, you, and I…you're better now, but somehow, for some reason, it's just gotten worse for us…for me. We used to have a reason for sticking together, but not anymore…now we live, and there's nothing to show for it…"
Gaara made no sign that he heard her, but he listened intently to her soft-spoken words.
"I thought that maybe by doing this," she gestured to her wrist. "Maybe I'd feel something…but I was stupid, it just hurt more. I was hoping, maybe, you'd end it for me…? Will you?" She whispered dazedly, turning to look at his shadowed figure.
"You should listen to your older sister, Gaara."
He said nothing. His head was tilted downwards, arms crossed loosely in his lap as he leaned against her bed frame, seemingly ignoring her every word.
"I remember…" Temari said softly, smiling now. "The day you were born…our mother died, and they didn't tell me. Kankuro and I wanted to see you, but they hid you from us. A week after your birth, Kankuro and I still didn't know what happened to mom, and we were forbidden from seeing you. But I snuck into your room one night…when Yashamaru had finally left…"
Though Temari couldn't see it, Gaara's fingers curled into trembling fists as she said their uncle's name.
She smiled again, a nostalgic look in her foggy eyes.
"You were awake…you were so small…I think I loved you at that moment. I picked you up…" Temari whispered, raising her arms and looking down at them. "And I remember feeling no fear…" her voice cracked.
"Because you were so small…"
Gaara raised his head, staring at her with wide eyes. A dull pain was clawing at his heart, and he raised his hand to his chest in recognizance. There was a lump in his throat, and he raised his eyes to Temari, glaring in a false fury, because he knew nothing else.
"Be quiet, Temari," he whispered harshly. "Don't speak."
"Yashamaru came," she continued, lowering her arms and staring at the floor. "He took you away…he warned me to never come near you again…I think that was the first and last time I ever held you…"
"Stop, Temari," he said hoarsely, unable to sway the pain that was taking hold of him.
"I was stupid enough to listen to that bastard…it's my fault you grew up without love. And now…now when everything is supposed to be okay…you're still alone, even though I've stopped listening to him. I don't fear you…"
"Stop…" the sand was startling to swirl around him again.
"I'm so sorry, Gaara…I'm sure you would have known love if our life's circumstances weren't so fucked…but just so you know, I do love you…and I can pretend that you feel something for me too…maybe than I can be happy…"
"Shut up!" The sand rose and towered above her threateningly as Gaara stood up and glared, his words punctured with confusion and fury. "I'll kill you!"
"Will you?" she said softly, lips breaking into a sad, hopeful smile. "I'm waiting."
Gaara stared at her in shock and confusion, his eyes wide as the sand swirled around him eagerly. He clenched his fists by his sides, the numbing vulnerability he felt arousing a deep-rooted rage within him.
Memories of Yashamaru's betrayal brought back the same feeling…
Why was she doing this to him?
Did she want to die?
Why didn't he obey her then?
Why didn't the sand surge forward, extinguish her life in a second, feed the hunger, and satisfy it?
Why? Why? Why?
Why couldn't he help but give into the burning tears in his eyes, as that infuriating lump in his throat choked back his rage and left only sorrow?
Why did he pause, hesitate, and wonder?
Why did he want to stop her?
Temari tilted her head slightly to the side, voicing his next question.
"Why can't you kill me?"
The sand slowly lowered itself back to the floor, recoiling from Temari's frame as Gaara slumped to his knees, his hands coming up to his head as he choked out his reply.
"I don't know…"
Temari stared at him, too dizzy and confused to say anything.
She, Kankuro, and Gaara hadn't spoken about this since they left Konoha. There was no recovery, so to speak, in the family's lack of communication and care. They avoided discussing Gaara's better mentality, lest he change and go back to the way he once was.
They avoided normalcy, because it was something alien.
They avoided each other, because they feared what they might say to one another.
"Gaara," Temari whispered, crawling over to his side, her eyes wide. "Do you…care about me?"
He remained silent at first, his body trembling as his fingers tangled themselves into his hair.
"I don't know…I don't understand…"
Temari reached towards him, her fingers touching his shoulder before he pulled back from her touch, only fueling her determination to get him to speak.
"You didn't hurt me," Temari whispered, lips parting in wonderment. "Why? Tell me, Gaara, you have to."
"No," he shook his head. "Don't speak, Temari. Don't touch me."
"I have to…we can't go on like this. We have to talk…Kankuro needs to know…we all need to know," she was pleading now, reaching for him again before he lashed out again.
"Shut up!" He shouted now, raising his head to glare at her. "Get away from me! I'll-"
"Kill me! I know!" Temari screamed suddenly. "Why don't you, then!? You won't speak…you won't kill me…what will you do, Gaara? Answer me!"
He just stared at her with wide eyes, stunned at her sudden outburst.
"Why won't you listen?" she cried. "I want us to be a normal family…I want you to talk to me! I want Kankuro to talk to me! Why are you so afraid of caring, Gaara? Are you afraid I'll hurt you, betray you? Betray you like-"
The sand rushed forward, slamming threateningly into the floor as Gaara clenched his fists in hate.
"Don't," he warned quietly, his words dripping with venom. "Don't say his name."
"I know he hurt you," she whispered, as Gaara bowed his head, the lump in his throat cutting off his voice. "But not everyone is like that…Kankuro and I care about you…you don't have to be afraid…"
Biting her lip apprehensively, she reached out again, resting her hand against his shoulder. He tensed, but did not respond, the sand lying motionless on the ground.
"If you won't kill me," she murmured. "Can you at least listen to me?"
He slowly raised his head, turning to look at her as she smiled at him.
"I wanted to die, today," she whispered. "But I was afraid. I couldn't take the coward's way out…I thought about you and Kankuro…wondered what would happen to you two without me…I even wondered if my death would give you any grief."
Gaara lowered his eyes, thinking about what she said. Did he know how to grieve? Would he be sad if she died?
He thought about her supposedly dying, and wondered how he'd react.
His imagination conjured an image of her, motionless, bleeding, pale, and no longer alive.
Slowly, his hand rose to his chest again, feeling an unfamiliar and sickening ache that wasn't hurt or betrayal. His eyes narrowed in confusion at the image in his mind, and he found himself speaking without realizing it.
"I…don't want you to die."
Temari's heart leapt, her expression softening as tears flooded her eyes again.
"Then keep me alive," she whispered, her fingertips brushing over his 'ai' tattoo. "Don't be afraid anymore. It's a new year, and we'll start over. We'll be happy. Don't you want that?"
The effects of the alcohol were lessening now, and Temari found her mind clearing, the full impact of what was happening hitting her.
Gaara raised his head, pale green eyes searching her face for any insincerity. His eyes lowered to her cut wrist, his heart clenching in pain again. He found himself nodding, once, the sand withdrawing completely.
"Are you giving me another chance?" Temari whispered, the intense hope she felt smothering her voice.
"I don't want you to die. I want to be…happy." He said quietly, trying the word as if it were something new.
"Then it's good enough for me to stay," she said, ignoring the tears that spilled over her cheeks. "Can I ask for one more thing?"
He looked up at her, blinking at the sight of her tears and extended arms.
"You were only a week old the last time I treated you like a brother." She whispered, smiling. "Can I…?"
Gaara stared at her outstretched arms, wary eyes looking over her sincere and welcoming expression. For a moment, the sight of Temari's small smile brought back the image of his mother's photograph, and he was struck by their likeness.
Almost unconsciously, he found himself bowing his head as he leaned forward, the sight of comfort bringing about a lifelong weariness he had always suppressed.
Temari's arms reached out as he hesitated, her hands resting momentarily on either side of his face as he lowered his eyes.
"Don't be afraid…"
Gaara closed his eyes as her arms encircled him, releasing the breath he was holding in relief, her warmth driving away the painful uncertainty. Her embrace brought on a sudden exhaustion, and Temari lowered her eyes in slight concern as he remained motionless.
"You okay, Gaara?"
He opened his eyes partially at the sound of her voice, pressing his forehead into her shoulder as the dull pain in his head subsided. Temari blinked as he nodded slowly, his voice a weak murmur.
"Yes…and, I'm sorry."
Temari smiled slightly, resting her cheek against his vermilion hair. "It's nothing."
If this was how it was going to be, she could stand to stay around…at least for her family. She could stay for Kankuro, for Gaara, and maybe a little for herself.
If this was how it was going to be, then yeah…she could do that.
Note: Temari sweetness! Click the review button below! Thanx.