Chevira, you are EVIL.
I didn't want to write the sandcest but it's eating my braaaaain, yikes! This has got to be the most sick and twisted thing I've ever written, and that's saying a hell of a lot. Aheh. Lime, yaoi, and thorough unpleasantness ahead, so beware. This is set after the Chuunin exams and etc., but before the mission to retrieve Sasuke.
For those of you keeping track (and, uh, brave enough to click on the link to get here), I'm considering adding a second chapter to 'In Shadow' since some people requested it, and 'Perceived With the Senses' will also probably be getting a second part due to its rather unsatisfactory (IMHO) ending. Thanks again for all your feedback. I love writing for its own sake, but it makes it twice as fun to know I'm entertaining people... or making you cry, or throw stuff at the screen, or whatever I'm doing to you. XD
Gaara, as usual, is awake.
Of course Kankurou can't hear him moving around outside, but nevertheless, he knows Gaara is there. At a guess, he'd venture that his little brother is reading, maybe curled up in his spot on the balcony in the spacious suite the three siblings share, tired restless eyes roving over the text with nothing but moonlight to guide him. Or he might be training, doing something mindless like practicing katas over and over, repetitive punches and kicks that he never uses in a real fight but has taught himself anyway. Whatever he's doing, he's probably only paying half attention to it. Gaara gets restless at night. But he's gradually been teaching himself to stay inside when they're home, a habit they tried to start instilling in him back when the assassination attempts began, so at least the casualties have decreased over the years.
Kankurou, for his part, is sprawled on his futon in a baggy tank top and boxers, his dark hair let loose to fall in a big brown mess across the pillowcase, and trying rather unsuccessfully to get to sleep. Life has been understandably tense in Sunagakure since their forces got back from Konoha. The council has yet to appoint a new Kazekage, and Kankurou is ever-so-slightly worried they're going to ask him to take the job. Granted, even though he's Kazekage's son, he's definitely not the strongest ninja in the village. But no one in their right mind would ask Gaara to take over the governing of a small nation, so they'll probably end up settling for second or third or fourth best. And he doesn't know exactly where he falls, but he's sure it's up there somewhere, because of his lineage if nothing else.
He blinks, surprised and a little unnerved to hear Gaara's voice at his door at this time of night. Having the kid come to him at this hour usually doesn't mean anything good. But he's sure Gaara knows he's awake, so he can't exactly just ignore him.
"Uhh... what's up?" he directs toward the closed door, sitting up on his futon and throwing out a chakra string with one finger to pull it back by the knob. Gaara stands there in the doorway and just looks at him for a long moment with that impassive gaze before walking a little further into the room. A tendril of sand eases the door shut behind him, and Kankurou winces to notice that it's come out, wondering what his brother's been up to tonight.
"Why do people pretend they love each other?" Gaara asks quietly, expression as thoroughly unreadable as ever.
Kankurou frowns thoughtfully, leaning his elbow against one knee and resting his chin in his outstretched hand. They haven't talked philosophy in a while.
"Well, that depends on what you mean, I guess," he starts out speculatively, letting his eyes drift off toward the floor as he thinks about his answer. He always tries his best to give one that he doesn't think will result in too many people dying later. "If you mean... why do people say they love each other when they don't..." He doesn't think this is it, knowing Gaara, so he glosses over it. "Well, there are lots of different complicated reasons for that... But if you just mean why do people say they love each other at all..."
He shrugs, looking back up at Gaara a little apprehensively. "Well, they're not always pretending. A lot of the time, they actually mean it."
Gaara just blinks impassively at him, appearing to absorb this answer. Not for the first time, Kankurou wonders what's actually going on in that twisted little head.
If someone ever asked him to define his feelings toward his brother, he's not sure he'd be able to. The baby that killed his mother - he barely knew her, but he'll never have the chance to now. The boy who has seriously threatened his life, and further than that, on more than one occasion. The prodigy who as a mere Genin is stronger than anyone else in the village. The monster whom everyone fears, whom everyone hates a little, probably including Kankurou himself. The constant center of attention.
The small child he had held, on occasion, and watched him cry. The boy he used to let play with his puppets. The de facto unit leader who has kept him alive on countless missions, despite claiming to hate him. The young man who looked up at him as they beat a hasty retreat out of Konoha, and whispered that he was sorry.
"Do you love anyone, Kankurou?"
He is a little taken aback by this second quiet question, and meets Gaara's eyes with a shocked expression for a moment before he glances away, shrugging uncomfortably.
"Sure... I guess."
Gaara just blinks slowly at him some more.
"You don't know?"
If Kankurou were only a braver person, or perhaps a slightly more suicidal one, he'd love to ask where exactly this weird line of conversation has come from. He can't remember talking about love with Gaara since the kid was like five. After the tattoo, they hadn't ever heard a word about it again... He shakes his head uncomfortably, glancing back once more.
"It's not that I... I mean... I do," he mutters, biting back his embarrassment. He pauses for a long moment. Gaara says nothing, but just keeps staring at him, apparently waiting for him to elaborate.
"...Temari, I guess," he mutters, shrugging. He hesitates again before he can bring himself to add the last part. "And... and you."
This time he glances up to notice a faint frown passing across Gaara's face. Since they're looking right at each other, Kankurou resists the urge to wince, hoping he didn't give the wrong answer.
"Me?" Gaara sounds vaguely puzzled by the idea.
"...Well... yeah," Kankurou mutters, wishing he'd stop rubbing it in, and wondering if he even realizes he's doing it. Gaara stands there and gazes down on him for a very, very long few minutes, with a frown that his big brother has come to recognize over the years as uncomprehending.
"Why? What quality do I have that makes me your... beloved person?" he wonders quietly, stumbling for a moment over the terminology.
"Down!" Gaara shouts, and the sand shoves him forcibly away from the rain of kunai; Karasu gets caught and his strings tangle up as the puppet is pummeled to and fro and starts to splinter under the strain.
"This is your brother. Gaara." Kazekage gestures coldly toward the baby cradled in a servant's arms. "From this day forward he will be the heir to my empire. The two of you will grow up to be his protectors."
"How do you make it move?" Gaara asks, reaching down to nudge at the puppet with pudgy baby fingers - he springs away in surprise, sand shooting up around him, when Karasu's arms snap out.
"It looks stupid on your forehead," Gaara mutters, reaching down to tie his hitai-ate around the leather strap of his gourd.
"Temari... Kankurou... I'm sorry," he whispers, sounding half-dead as he hangs from Kankurou's side, and they reassure him awkwardly while they retreat.
He'd only ever said it once.
Kankurou is silent for a while.
"Well... You're my brother," he murmurs at last, in summation.
There is another long moment of quiet. Gaara always thinks thoroughly before he speaks.
"That's an arbitrary reason," he murmurs back finally, his frown deepening a little. "It doesn't make sense."
"...Yeah, love tends not to," Kankurou says quietly, more to himself than to his brother, as his eyes turn down on his futon.
Gaara comes a step closer. And another, and another. Kankurou finds himself staring at his brother's sandals, and his gaze turns back up slowly to find Gaara's face nearly next to his, blank green gaze staring ominously down on him.
"If it makes no sense... How can people depend on it the way they do?" he murmurs, reaching up to undo the strap of his gourd. It makes a soft thump on the floor, exactly like falling sand, as he lets it go. Kankurou's eyes widen.
"How can he depend on it the way he does?" Gaara mutters, and the beginning of something like anger is starting to work itself into his voice, and Kankurou can only sit there frozen in sudden terror as his brother kicks off his sandals and climbs on top of him.
"Show me," he says, his voice somewhere between a whisper and a growl as he crawls forward, shoving himself into Kankurou's face, and Kankurou falls back onto the bed a little but Gaara follows, leaning down so their faces are inches from each other again, and Kankurou can feel Gaara's warm breath against his cheeks.
"People act like this when they love each other, don't they?" he says in that same not-growl, not-whisper, and his hand reaches under Kankurou's shirt and Kankurou realizes he is far, far too used to letting Gaara have his way. "I watch them... through their windows... I've seen." He starts to tug Kankurou's tank top off and Kankurou thinks he's going for the pants next but he's slightly too terrified to pay good attention. "Show me why."
And Gaara is ripping off his own clothes and moving down, and down, and down and all Kankurou can think is Oh my god, my brother is going to fucking rape me and no one is ever gonna know.
Because there's no way to make him stop, and he already knows he can never, never, never ever say a word.
"Why do they do it?"
"I don't know," he moans, and God help him he can feel the heat spreading down there and he supposes he already knew he was just as fucked in the head as Gaara when it got right down to it, stare into the abyss long enough and all that shit, and Gaara is working on him and working him over and he flips Kankurou onto his stomach and Kankurou clutches at his pillow like it or anything else in the world could save him, and he lies there and shakes and hurts and moans and sobs.
"Why do they depend on it?" He can feel Gaara pushing, oh god he can feel it he can FEEL it oh god, oh god, if only Temari would wake up, if only somebody would come in and turn on the lights and maybe that would make him stop except he knows nothing will make him stop, and Kankurou can feel something wet and warm and cold down there and Gaara is biting his shoulder and it hurts and it's a lot, lot better than what's going on down there and so Kankurou concentrates as hard as he can on that pain and the blood dripping down onto the pillowcase.
And for a second it's all quiet, and he realizes fuzzily after a moment longer that Gaara is waiting for his answer, and he sobs another "I don't know!" into the pillow because at the moment he really doesn't.
Amidst the warm and cold and wet and good and bad and that throbbing pain he can feel Gaara's hands moving around down there now and he stops to wonder somewhat hysterically how his brother got so good at this, and he gasps against the pillow at a sudden jerk and Gaara is at his ear whispering.
"How does it make them strong? How?"
As if Kankurou is the only person who holds the vital secret and it's got to be tortured out of him.
Gaara bites his ear, and Kankurou thinks he's really, really enjoying this.
"They get stronger because they don't want to see each other hurt," he gasps out in a sudden, brief moment of clarity.
Gaara lies down on top of him, and it's quiet for a little while, and Kankurou watches the blood drip down onto the pillowcase from his shoulder and just concentrates on remembering to breathe.
"Is that how you feel about me?" Gaara asks quietly into his ear again.
Kankurou orders himself as firmly as he's able to stop crying.
"M... Most of the time..." he mutters into the pillow.
He can feel a twinge of pain and the pressure of fingers brushing up against the bite on his shoulder, and he can't see but he's sure Gaara's rubbing the blood off and looking at it, because Gaara is fond of blood.
"...Did I hurt you?" comes his voice again, suddenly sounding a little unsure of itself.
Kankurou shudders once against the futon and then orders himself as firmly as he's able to stop shaking.
"...Yes," he admits, and is detachedly proud that it doesn't come out as a sob, and it's all bitter, so very bitter.
Gaara gets up.
Kankurou feels frozen to the spot as the pressure against his body eases, and he listens to Gaara pick up his clothes, slip on his sandals. The sand makes a quiet whoosh, and when Kankurou finally dares to turn a little and look, Gaara is dressed again, as clean and tidy as though he'd never so much as thought about coming into his brother's room in the middle of the night and assaulting him.
Gaara only meets his eyes for a moment, and then they drift down to the floor as he reaches to pick up his gourd.
And then he walks out, and is gone. The only evidence he was ever here is the mess on the bed, and the sick tight feeling in Kankurou's chest.
And then there is nothing for him to do but bury his face in the dirtied pillow again and let himself sob, because he knows that when the morning comes, Gaara will still be his brother.