Summary: When no one is watching, Temari dances. (Sandcest, TemarixKankurouxGaara)
AN: This is a sort of unofficial companion piece to Kimi no Vanilla's story Offering, (which is teh uber, go read!) I blame the fact that in this awesome RPG I'm in, she plays Kankurou and I play Temari and this other amazing writer plays Gaara. Most (all) of the inspiration for this fic is drawn (read: stolen) from there. It's ohsofun, yes. Oh, yeah. Warning! Mildly hinted at child abuse. If that squicks you out, I'm sure you're well versed in the usage of the back button.
This was written in about an hour, and is unedited liek woah! If you spot any errors, don't hesitate to point 'em out!
When no one is watching, Temari dances.
She dances until the sweat spins off of her in little jeweled droplets and until the dust is streaked across her skin like clouds across a scarlet-hued sky. Until her hair falls from its ties and tumbles about her face in a blonde cascade and until the shirt she's wearing sticks to the small of her back and under her breasts and her pants to the insides of her thighs.
She's dirty, and she's never felt more beautiful.
And even though she knows life is short and sometimes meaningless, and even though you can be brought into the world just to die, she feels that here -under an alcove granted by a jutting piece of sandstone, with her bare feet making feather-marks on the dirt- she is immortal.
She is neither the former Kazekage's daughter nor the present Kazekage's sister. The scars that pull taut against her skin are the love-bites of fate, not grisly reminders of near-failure. The blood under her short fingernails is just one more thing she can learn to ignore.
She feels like the wind she so loves to control. Bridled and yet unbridled, calm and yet cold. Strong and yet capable of change.
Her brother can make puppets dance. She knows because she's seen him do it. She's intimately familiar with the inner workings of marionettes, because she herself was one for so long. But she's learned and still learning how to move on her own, and it's not an experience she would trade for all the world. She can watch and learn things with the wide, innocent eyes of a child and have it not feel sinful or strange.
She can fall asleep without tension in her shoulders and a cold knot of dread in the pit of her stomach, wondering when the next time Kankurou will slink into her room and need to be held, still smelling of blood and other things, or the next time Gaara will threaten to kill one of them.
She can breathe, and her breath is her own. She can think, and her thoughts are her own. She can dance, and the world is at her fingertips.
She loves it because she can't help but love it.
And she never goes home before dawn.
When she was ten, her father told her how much she looked like her mother. There was an unspoken question in his voice, a peculiar ghosting lilt that she could only just decipher. He traced the curve of her cheek with a knuckle and did not smile. She had backed away from him and told him in no uncertain terms to never touch her again.
Three weeks later, she found out just what getting her way was like, and Kankurou spent three days in a corner of her room, silent and stoic and not entirely sane. She remembers having bit her lip until it bled.
It's the only truly clear detail of the whole affair, although she dimly recalls urging him to eat and sleep at one point. He asked if he could stay with her, and not since then has she had a desire to turn him away.
Temari loves her brother.
When no one is watching Kankurou, he watches Temari. He knows that she knows he's there. He knows she chooses to ignore him, and he knows the way her balance shifts lightly from foot to foot is music given form, and that it's her gift to him.
He knows she never goes home before dawn, and he knows that he'll fall asleep before she's done, and that she'll pick him up and carry him back to the palace and she'll tuck him in and maybe he'll be awake enough to mutter a 'thanks' in her general direction, but he doubts it. Kankurou's work as the head of the house drags him down and he, unlike Gaara, still needs to rest. He manages his duties with a bare three hours of sleep a night and people have learned to avoid him before he's had half a pot of coffee.
Sometimes he remembers that you shouldn't look at your sister that way and you shouldn't want her hands on your skin and that you shouldn't think the sorts of thoughts he thinks.
But he knows it's all right, too. Because the sons and daughter of the Kazekage have never been normal and he knows it's been said that you can't miss what you've never had.
When he was nine, his father told him that he looked nothing like his sister. There was an unspoken accusation in his voice, a peculiar hard edge that made him flinch to hear it. The then-Kazekage had put a hand flat on his chest and pushed him against a wall and asked him if he'd rather Temari were here instead.
His first clear memory afterwards is of Temari standing there with blood dripping down her chin; a blanket in her hands and the most awful look on her face he'd ever seen. It wasn't that it was particularly horrible or gruesome or even very angry. It was…sad. Tragic and heartbreaking and everything that he knew he never wanted to see again.
At some point, he asked her if he could stay with her, and she agreed. Later, he watched her sleep and promised silently that he would always protect her. And then he remembered unearthly pain and blood between his thighs and he gritted his teeth and schooled himself to forget it. When the memories got too bad he'd curl up in Temari's arms and she would tell him in her little-girl whisper that she'd look after him.
He's never regretted the choices he's made. Never.
Kankurou loves his sister.
People are always watching Gaara. But when he can find a moment to himself and hoard it greedily, he does. So when no one is watching Kankurou watching Temari, Gaara watches the both of them.
He knows they know he's there. He's never tried to hide it. He sits on a rocky outcropping a distance away and uses the third eye to do it. Sometimes Temari will look at the sky without shielding her gaze, searching, always searching, like a hawk after a desert mouse.
Sometimes Kankurou will give him funny looks when they meet in the hallways.
Gaara wonders sometimes if things might have gone a different way. If he never would have had Shukaku, would they have been a normal family? If Temari had never become a kunoichi, would she carry half the scars she has? If Kankurou had never become a puppeteer, what would he spend his free time doing, if not tinkering with his instruments? If Yashamaru had not died, if Mother hadn't of allowed herself to be killed, if Father had not tried to posses a power he could not control…
But he also knows that no matter how he wonders, things will never change. Only the future can be toyed with, battered about like the wind or strung like a marionette. And all the while sand runs through his hands as if through an hourglass, and he can feel the weight of tomorrow more heavily than his armor of sand.
He doesn't use the armor around his siblings. He's learned how to force down his defenses, how to push past the horrible yearning to see their blood splattered across the floors in an artistic mosaic. When Temari gives him one of her quick, flighty hugs, it's skin that she touches, not sand. And when Kankurou gives him one of those awkward, brotherly claps on the shoulder, it's skin that he touches, not sand.
Sometimes, Temari and Kankurou sleep in the same bed, nestled together, their limbs tangled and them looking like a nest of vipers. Gaara stands silently at the foot of their over-large bed and watches, and wonders how they would feel if they knew. If they knew that sometimes, he ghosts his fingers over Temari's face or the curve of Kankurou's shoulder. Gaara thinks that Temari looks nothing like Mother. Mother was soft, he knows from her picture. Temari is not.
And Kankurou resembles her in the set of his chin and the green in his eyes and the stubborn, prideful manner with which they both can act sometimes.
Gaara doesn't know that it's not right to think his thoughts about both of his siblings. Nor does it seem unnatural how he sometimes wishes he could sleep, just so he could lie between the two of them and be lulled into security by their steady breathing. And maybe halfway through the night Temari would fling one sleepy arm across his chest and Kankurou would hook a foot around Gaara's calf and he would know what it was like to love and be loved.
But he's never asked. And they've never offered. And maybe Temari glances at him sometimes with a curious question in her eyes and maybe Kankurou smiles at him sometimes with a sort of warning in his eyes, and maybe Gaara notices or maybe he doesn't. It all comes down to one simple, inescapable fact, in the end.
Gaara loves his siblings.