Title: Building Bridges
Rating: R
Pairing(s): Kankurou/Temari, Temari/Gaara, Kankurou/Gaara, Gaara/Temari/Kankurou
Warning(s): Sandcest, slight violence, masturbation.

The birth was difficult every time. Three times, she had problems; three times she nearly died. The doctors weren't happy about her having two more children after the first success, but nothing could dissuade the Kazekage and, by proxy, her, from having at least three.

After Gaara was born, the games being played with her life stopped: the winner had been decided, there was no need. She, however, had certainly not won.

She -- a quiet, underachieving village girl with absolutely no breeding and no money to her name -- gave her life for her youngest son.

She did it bitterly. A curse was placed on the children she had struggled to bring into existence, wrought into their blood when hers stopped running.

The bottom of Temari's pajamas slipped under her feet as she walked slowly through the house, and she had to be careful, watch her step so as not to slip. Hiding a yawn with the back of one hand, she entered the kitchen through the open doorway and approached the freezer; she pulled open the door, frigid air hitting her face. Temari rooted slowly through a dusting of ice until her fingers found something solid and stuck to it. Ah. Ice cube tray.

She slipped an ice cube out and into her hand. It nestled, cool, against her palm; the desire to put it between her lips stifled like the heat under her skin. The night was cold outside her four walls, though Temari wished for nothing more than to slip outside and wrap herself in the chill.

A sound from the door made her whirl around, the ice cube in her fingers spraying out a fan of melted water droplets. Kankurou shuffled into the kitchen, blond hair tangled and his eyes rimmed with sleep, face dark with smudges of purple.

Temari bit back a laugh. "Hey," she called, surprising him. "You forgot to take off your make up."

Kankurou stared at his sister, eyes wide as he avoided sleep. He approached the large, wooden table set in the middle of the room and pulled a chair loose, then seated himself heavily in it. "Hey," he shot back, "you forgot to take off that ugly mask."

The insult was laughable, but Temari bristled anyway. Ignoring it, she turned her back on Kankurou and shut the freezer door, one hand pressed against it and fingers running smudges on clean white. Her brother was silent behind her, though she guessed that his head would be in his hands as he tried to focus on sleep. She had come down and found him sprawled out over the tabletop more than once before.

Droplets of water ran between her fingers and fell, almost soundlessly, to the floor. Temari turned around again, hands positioning on her hips. "Go back to bed," she muttered, though her voice was firm. "You'll only bitch about a pain in the neck tomorrow."

Kankurou lifted his face from between his elbows and scowled at her. "The only pain in my neck is you, Temari." His head dropped forward again, into the palms of his hands. "Leave me alone."

Pulling a bitter face at him, Temari took his advice and headed for the door, careful not to tread on the water streaked across the marble floor. Her pajama bottoms slipped beneath her feet again; she stopped to pull them back up.

Kankurou's hand reached out and curled about her wrist, her scars reading like Braille under his fingers; she stared at him, entirely unsurprised by the movement. Letting go, he stood up and faced her, unblinking. "That really annoys me," he murmured, frowning. "Why do you buy them so big?"

Temari smiled, glancing down at his hand and then back up into his face. "Like you said, it annoys you." She continued to smile, his messy hair and purple-smudged skin looking quite ridiculous in the bright kitchen light -- though she was sure she looked no better, Temari felt as though some small battle was leaning in her favour.

Kankurou sighed and let her go, lips quirking in irritation. "Sometimes I feel like the oldest," he muttered, blowing some stray hair from his face. Temari snorted and regarded Kankurou from underneath her eyelashes, bitter at his height advantage.

"You're just pissed because I get to you." She turned half away, lips pursing, and announced, "I'm going to bed." She yawned, counting down the seconds, waiting for him to--

Kankurou wrapped his hand about her fist, face grave. He turned her, sighed, and pressed his lips to her throat. Temari let out the breath she had been holding.

They both shivered as Kankurou kissed her, Temari's ice cube melting through their fingers.

When she walked, Temari's hips jutted out at strange angles, pinnacles of bone under paper-thin skin. She never revealed any more flesh than really necessary, never ate more than she needed.

Gaara noticed.

Gaara noticed when Temari lay against him late at night and he felt the resistance of bone; when he stroked whorls into her skin and felt no softness beneath it; when Temari spoke breathlessly into his ear and her hip pressed patterns into his side.

Gaara always noticed, but never looked Temari in the eyes when she lay against him and never said a thing.

The moon wavered behind a thick drift of cloud, white light falling through Kankurou's window; he brushed some hair from his forehead, and gritted his teeth to bite back a sigh. He was prone to that these days, feeling frustrated over nothing and letting his breaths out before they were ever really in. That, and thinking too much. Thinking all the time about the next way to hit back, just as hard--

Kankurou cut off the thought, lifted from his bed and padded to the window, restless and irritable. The day had been spent training, begun on such a neutral note and ended with this.

He deliberately didn't look at Gaara, deliberately didn't feel vindicated at another win, four-three to him now. They had been playing this game for years; now it felt less like a game and more like some matching deathwish. Kankurou deliberately didn't think of Gaara and his part in it.

He deliberately didn't slip his hands into his boxers, pressed against the window, and get off to the thought of Temari's next attempt to win.

Temari was never gentle, but she was never quite enough to cause pain. She made it difficult to say no, but the climax never really made it worth it.

Temari would always be quite fine in the daylight, nothing amiss. As the sun diffused itself into the sea, she would touch you innocently enough, but somehow make you feel unspeakable things.

Temari made you feel crushed. Gaara had never had this sort of trouble before, not with anybody.

Kankurou was always soft and this felt surprising, a complete shock to the mind. He didn't leave time to say no: before you had time to think, you were in his bed and shaking in the dark.

Kankurou made you feel heavy, like time had never been a concept. Gaara had never felt anything like it, never before, and it felt wrong down to the pit of his stomach.

Gaara wasn't stupid. He saw them every other night,together, somewhere dark and out of view.

Gaara saw, he understood their game, but he never quite managed to say no.

And though the first time it all came together was the strangest, it never went entirely right. Gaara felt that the three of them had something in common, even if Temari and Kankurou refused to see it.

He considered it over dinner, something that Temari had cooked up; neither he nor Kankurou questioned what it was, simply ate in comfortable silence. The sun painted colours on the sky as it set, and Gaara watched it through the window.

"This needs to stop," Kankurou said suddenly, and as Gaara looked at him he watched Temari. She opened her mouth to protest, but he cut her off: "You know what I'm talking about, and so does he." Kankurou got to his feet suddenly, chair swinging out behind him.

Gaara felt a sudden flicker of anger. Kankurou had no right to say things like that, to dismiss him as though he were nothing more than some bystander. He held his temper in close, though anger pressed in on his thoughts.

Temari said nothing, but the tense set of her shoulders let him know that she was thinking furiously. "Maybe…" Gaara began, and they both looked across at him. "Maybe you two are the problem."

Gaara could almost hear what they were thinking; they both looked away, frowning. This was as close to serious as their conversations had been lately, as close as he had come to saying "this is what we are, though you two have it all wrong".

"Maybe you two need to stop."

Neither Temari nor Kankurou said anything. All three of them waited for something to happen, and then as darkness fell it did.

It is difficult to know when the lines got blurred, lost, but they did, and suddenly none of them can remember where they used to be.

Then again, some things just make more sense this way. Still a game, still the same players; but now everybody knows the rules, know that there aren't any and that they just aren't important anymore.

The three of them feel best when all together, when there are no secrets. When Gaara runs Temari's hair through his fingers, when she plays with the hem of Kankurou's sleeve. Things are quite fine in the daylight, nothing amiss; when the sun diffuses into the sea, things are different, unspeakable, and they lay together without a sound.

They feel confused, cursed, but three has just always been a better fit.