Fatigued eyes, cast downward onto a scribble on nonsensical black squiggles, blinked owlishly, and squinted at those black chicken-scratches, trying to discern distinct symbol shapes. A sigh escaped from the owner's lips, and Gaara's fingers reached up to work the sleep out of his eyes.

Insomnia, that he was used to, but the mental incapacitation of signing paperwork and arguing with foreign delegates was something completely alien, and the Kazekage almost dared to say that he was afraid he would fall asleep on the job.

Another sigh. Gaara rose from his seat--a squishy armchair Kankurou absolutely insisted he should get for the office--and rubbed his eyes again, turning out to face the window, where the scorching desert sun filtered through the tinted glass.

It had been a long time since he was this tired. Tired enough to want to leave his job--which he had signed up for of his own volition--unfinished.

His bright green eyes closed, and his feet seemed to move of their own accord. As he reached the door, his hand automatically shot out to grasp the handle and open the door, and Gaara felt the slightly unnerving feeling of being on autopilot. He opened his eyes to give himself some insight to where he was going.

Down the hall. Left. Past three closed doors, these being his only company aside from the silence he'd come to expect on Saturdays. A right. Two doors, this time open. Another left.

He shuffled his feet to a stop, gently pushing open the door to the Kazekage's sanctuary, used as the largest conference room in the Suna bureaucracy building, pushing the door closed behind him with a faint 'click' as he walked forward, toward the cold stone statues of his predecessors, casting a glance to the latest in the series.

Slowly, he reached out, placing a somewhat limp hand on the back of one of the chairs surrounding the large table, raising his head to look directly into the stony eyes of the former Kazekage, passing through each before settling on a spot just above the space in between the second and third.

Another sigh.

"Do I disappoint you, otou-san?"

--

A soft knock sounded in the Kazekage's office, and the door creaked open slightly. A blonde head poked in gingerly. "Gaara?" Temari stepped fully inside the small room, looking around. A small frown creased her lips. "Gaara?"

She cast another gaze about the room, eyes searching, before turning out of the room, dissatisfied. Where could he be? It was far past seven, when the redhead usually returned home from the Sunagakure compound for the day, and Temari, despite herself, was getting worried.

She found her feet taking her down the ever-stretching hallway, past closed doors she knew Gaara would never have bothered with, taking several shortcuts through the halls of the building yet to be remodeled, and finally coming to a stop in the conference wing, huffing and putting hands on hips in impatience.

There was no small comfort in that Temari knew he hadn't been taken again. He was still missing, and it didn't matter if his life was on the line--she was his sister, dammit, and she would be damned if she would let this happen again.

The woman sent a quick look to each of the doors around her, frowning. Since it was the weekend, there were barely any officials even around the building, so more than half of the doors would have been locked. She knew perfectly well that there was absolutely no way to know just by looking which were or were not locked, and with a sigh, Temari resigned herself to simply rattling at the doorknobs, quickly looking into the rooms she found to be open.

The first few were unsuccessful, but as her sandals crunched on the sand beneath more and more loudly with each step, she knew she couldn't be too far off. Reaching her hand out, fingers tightly gripping the cool metal of the doorknob, she clenched her eyes together, brow furrowing. Let him be there. Come on...

Gently, she pushed open the door, peeking through one open eye to see inside. The single green eye darted about the room, glancing at the faces in stone, on the marble tabletop standing proudly in the center of the room, and quickly to each of the corners of the room. A small motion just beyond the table caught her attention and--

"Gaara!" Temari burst into the room, the door banging uselessly against the wall as she sprinted forward, skidding into a crouch next to her brother, hands freezing an inch from his shoulders before falling limply to the blonde's sides.

Pastel green eyes rose to greet her, and just as slowly shifted back to their previous position. "Ah..."

Temari's thin fingers tightened in the gravel underneath. "What..." She fumbled over her words. Her knuckles whitened. "What are you still doing here? I was worried sick about you."

Gaara made no movements to show he heard her, only blinking once. A small sigh escaped his lips, and he closed his eyes, darkened skin around his eyes looking all the more black.

Temari felt her heart stop. Even though Shukaku was no longer a part of him, she still felt tremors run through her blood if Gaara's eyes weren't open. Gingerly, she reached out a hand, stopping it just before his chest. "Gaara?" She let her hand make contact, jumping slightly when the redhead spoke.

"Am I..." he opened his eyes, squinting up at her. "Do I disappoint you?"

This took her slightly aback, certainly not something she was used to hearing from the dread Sabaku no Gaara. This was her only hesitation before offering a tentative smile. "No." Temari shook her head for emphasis, leaning down to wrap him into an awkward embrace, feeling him stiffen.

"...Thanks."