See, I'm not dead! -insert happy face- I know its been awhile since I've updated, sorry about that. Failed my math class, so I've been doing remedial classes all summer. Fun. I just finished today, and the resulting euphoria gave me the inspiration to finally finish this chapter. Enough babbling, enjoy!

Naruto is (c) Masahi Kishimoto and Viz publishers. I do not own it in any way, shape, or form.

Chapter 35


Gaara loved his mate, he really did, but sometimes Naruto was not the sharpest kunai in the holster. In fact, he could be dense as a stale piece of ration bar stuck to the bottom of someone's vest pocket. Said moron was presently nestled securely in his lap, where he had been immovably anchored ever since being scared out of his wits (the few that he had, which left him with almost none at all).

"…That was really, really stupid of you."

"Well, she should lock the door or something!"

"….."

Personally, Gaara agreed with him, but he wasn't going to tell his sister that anytime soon. And Naruto's insistence on checking on whatever had made Kankuro scream was his own fault; Temari had not been amused at being interrupted a second time. He heard stomping in the hallway and waited patiently for them to come to his door, but instead the footsteps went down the stairs. A few seconds later the door slammed, and the room was left in silence. Naruto shakily let out the breath he'd been holding.

"I live… to see another day."

Gaara inwardly rolled his eyes at all the unnecessary drama.


The next day found our favorite Kazekage calmly trying to finish some paperwork in his room. Naruto was out with his academy teacher for the day, and Gaara had been getting rather behind on it. The house was strangely quiet without the blonde there; Gaara thought he had been used to silence, but after all he'd been through since he came to Konoha it was a little unsettling. After a few minutes, he heard footsteps creak down the polished wooden hallway towards his door. He silently put down his papers and waited patiently while his siblings poked their heads through the doorway (He knew that it was slightly open but still, they could have had the decency to knock, dammit!).

"…What?"

He hadn't meant to sound harsh, but he could see how their bodies stiffened at his tone. A small frown made its way to his face as he noticed their slight discomfort. It was similar to what he felt from them back when he-

"Gaara, we just wanted to talk" Temari said soothingly as she stepped into the room followed closely by Kankuro, who had a half guilty look on his face. Gaara's frown deepened; the atmosphere dropped into the 'awkward' zone as they all stood in the room, the older siblings looking at him, then looking away. "Gaara…" Kankuro finally said quietly, "why didn't you tell us?" The red head took a few seconds to process the question, then realized what his brother had to be talking about.

"I… did not want you to worry."

It sounded strange to him, to say out loud that he cared if they worried about him or not. He'd spent too much time over the years telling himself that they weren't important to him, that they hated him just as much as everyone else; convincing himself he hated them in return. Kankuro and Temari's surprise was conveyed by brief shifts in their stances, and they slowly relaxed. The unease in the room lightened slightly. "Didn't want us to worry" Temari echoed disbelievingly, moving to cross her arms over her chest. "Don't you think we'd want to know if an evil organization is going after our little brother again? Or… did you not trust us?" she finished quietly. The sand kunoichi was well aware that she and Kankuro had been less than openly supportive of their little brother, and knew that could have affected his trust in them. If they hadn't given him reason to trust them before, why should he now? She wasn't that naïve.

"It's…not that. It's more about what you could have done about the situation" Gaara stated clearly and bluntly. He trusted his siblings much more than he had before, but last time he'd interacted with the Akatsuki they had been helpless to do anything; Kankuro had almost died from poison and Temari had been all the way back in Konoha. He did not want to lose his siblings so soon after finally seeing them as family. It would crack what little of his sanity he had recovered, and that was something he could not afford. He had a village to run- he could not to relapse into his old self. Temari started to retort to the statement, then caught herself. The remark had hurt, but there was also more than a little truth in it. Helplessness was an emotion she hated and tried as much as she could to avoid. Unfortunately, the rare instances when she did feel it were usually connected in some way to her little brother. "It doesn't matter what we can or can't do, Gaara." Kankuro stated quietly, bringing both of his siblings attention to him.

"You're our little brother, so we'll do our best to protect you from anything, including the Akatsuki. Even if we're useless… we can at least do that much. And we won't regret it, because it's our choice. Not yours."

Kankuro wasn't one who was expected to saying anything very profound. He was the lesser known of the three siblings, and preferred it that way. After all, it was much easier to succeed in battle if one was underestimated- which he was. More silence descended on the room, broken only the sounds of light breathing and, in Gaara's head, Shukaku's off hand remark about Kankuro not being a total wussy moron. Gaara promptly snarled (inwardly) at him to shut up. Shukaku pouted. 'Touchy brat.'

"…Yes." Temari said finally. "What Kankuro said." She turned to glare at her littlest brother, Big Sister mode fully on. "And damn right it's our choice! And if you don't like it, tough." With that she crossed the room and crushed Gaara into a hug, causing him to freeze and his eye to twitch at the sudden (highly unexpected) contact. "Alright, I get it…" He grumbled slightly, squirming uneasily in his sister's death hug. His eye met with his brother's across the room, and they came to a mental agreement- We understand each other, no mushy hugging crap needed. We're men, after all! – and all was well. However, his sister was still hugging him-

"…you're ruining my scary, badass reputation Aneki." He stated flatly. Shikaku cackled loudly in his head.

Somehow, somewhere, a little piece of hell froze over.


Kitsune-no-Kyuubi knew very well that the Hyuuga were a small, powerful clan prone to arrogance and a need to preserve their blood limit that crossed the border of obsessive. She also knew that it was bound to destroy itself internally, unless the idiots somehow managed to think things through realize their little slave system was a very stupid idea. Not to mention if they continued the rather obvious inbreeding they would end up with generations of Hyuuga racked with genetic diseases that would weaken their oh so treasured blood line.

'…How in all the hells can humans be so stupid?'she wondered, watching the current leader of the clan mutter to himself. 'Your brother fucking died in your place because the oh so venerable clan elders decided his life was more worthless than yours because you were born what, a minute before him? And you still keep a system that fucked up? Yes, you apologized and all that bullshit, and now you see your nephew as a son or whatever- so why don't you let him have what little happiness he's managed to find in this hellhole? Are you that weak spirited, Hyuuga? Too weak to change a fucked up system that's been in your family practically since it's creation? Too spineless to stand up to the clan elders, to help free your own family members from family sanctioned slavery? …You pathetic little worm.'

Her blazing eyes narrowed as she saw him rub his temples slightly, a sure sign of irritation, angst, anger, depression, or more angst. It was hard to tell with Hyuuga.

'They deserve to go out like the Uchiha, if they keep this up… I've seen it happen over and over again, and with clans much greater than your group of snobs.'

Maybe she was being a little unfair- after all, no one could deny that the Hyuuga were a powerful clan, and the Byakugan an irreplaceable asset to any shinobi village. But still, it wouldn't kill them to marry outside of their family once in a while, hell, it might make their bloodline more powerful. And the whole, 'your lives are lesser than ours because we're the Main family'- total bullshit. Frankly, it was shocking no one had revolted so far. …Except for the fact their brains would be melted by the cadged bird seal. That could definitely be the reason.

'However this turns out… it will be amusing to watch' the great fox thought, a smirk pulling at her mouth. 'So lets see then- just how much of a puppet are you, Hyuuga Hiashi?'

Somewhere deep inside himself, Hyuuga Hiashi wished for no more than his children's happiness. He wasn't a heartless man, no matter how cold he seemed to most people. The sun was shining through the leaves of Konoha's many trees, bringing out the vibrant green and bathing the grass in gold. Hiashi gazed on the sight through the open paper slide doors, hands settled regally on his knees. Whatever was going on with his children- and he suspected he knew what it was- he couldn't let it continue. He wasn't allowed to let it continue.

'You know as well as I do they look happier. Isn't that what you want, Oniisama? For them to be happy?'

"Of course I do. Hinata is my daughter, and Neji my nephew… I want them to be happy. But if they have attractions to others-"

'They're teenagers, what do you expect? Are you telling me you never looked at someone else romantically when you were that age, Oniisama? Or were you too busy becoming a regal doll?'

"They have their duty to the clan. Hinata needs a strong marriage to strengthen our political ties, and preferably Neji as well. His offspring will be powerful, if he marries the right-

'Is that what our children are? Pawns, breeders? Are we animals or men, Oniisama? Or are we merely pretty dolls that bow and succumb to those who pull the strings?'

"…Please… whoever you are… get out of my head."

'You don't know me, Oniisama? Was I that worthless to you, you don't recognize me even when I call you by your title? …And to think I died for you.'

"…You… you can't be him. He's dead."

'Indeed I am.'

"Hisashi…?"

'Yes?'

Hiashi blinked out of it when a muted 'Hiashi-sama' floated through the screen that led into his room. A hand lifted to rub at his temples, his eyes wide and horrified as he went through his mental conversation. 'I must be going crazy…'

TBC


Omake (aka, the comic relief)

"…Why are we at the bathhouse spying on people?" Shino stated flatly, briefly pondering the sanity of his teammate. How was this supposed to help him understand sexuality?

Kiba turned and stared at his teammate, wondering how Shino could be so smart yet so fucking clueless. "Shino- I know you've had sex ed. We were in the same fucking class together. So how the hell is it you don't know this stuff?"

The boy's eyes were unreadable beneath his dark glasses. "What does the biological function of reproduction have to do with this?"

Blink.

"The Biological what?" Kiba stated, confused.

"The biological function of reproduction" Shino repeated. "Is sexuality related to breeding, or do you find it a completely separate entity?"

"Shino… sex is sex. I have no clue what th' fuck you're talking about. Its about… I dunno, feeling good! Feelin' yer hormones run wild and lettin' em! You can't tell me you've never jacked off or something, you're a fucking teenager for gods-

"You brats are blocking my view! Find somewhere else to tell your dirty stories, I have research to do!" Jiraiya proclaimed crossly as he appeared in the same tree limb the boys were in, pushing Kiba to the side. Between the push, the shock, and the perilous balance he already had on the branch, Kiba flailed his arms out as he fell- right into Shino. The two teens landed with a 'splash!'- right into the women's baths. Kiba idly wondered if it was possible to blush as red as his tattoo marks and as pale as Akamaru's fur at the same time. If it was, that's exactly what he was doing right now.

"….KYAAAAAA!"

"Shit, run!" Kiba hissed to Shino. The two boys disappeared quickly, pursued by a horde of pissy, murderous looking women wearing nothing but towels and waving brooms in the air. Where the brooms came from? The world may never know.

"Bow chikka bow woooow" Jiraiya whispered, his eyes glazed over as he took out a small notepad. This was so going into his next book.

TBC


Feels good to finally finish this chapter, its been sitting on my computer forever. Just to reiterate- I may dissappear, but I will never die! I know it sucks waiting a long time for chapters, but to those who truly enjoy this fic thank you for continuing to read my disconnected ramblings (aka, the story). For those who read my other stories... I'm trying to work on them. I want to try to at least update Boys of Summer before summer break is over...

Neji: Its not happening. Don't make promises you can't keep.

me: I didn't make a promise in the first place so ha! I said I'd try.

Neji: Exactly- you'll try and fail. Like with math. -smirk-

Me: ...I hate you... sooo much...

Inner Neji: Don't provoke her, moron. She decides if we ever get laid!

Neji: -rolls his eyes- No ones gotten laid in four chapters. It ain't gonna happen.

Me: It will! ...Eventually. Maybe.

Neji: That's a no. End of story.

Me: You have no faith in me, do you?

Neji: No.

Me: ...You're a cruel, cruel soul.

Neji: And that's why people love me


Review if you want to comment. -smile-