Author's Note:

Kankuro is being very, very naughty... I wouldn't expect anything less of him.

mild language and suggestions of a sexual nature are mentioned.

I have two dedications:

Gymchick: I deeply appreciate your support and efforts with "These Foolish Things."

Yes – I should have sent this one to you for beta-reading first but it would have ruined the surprise!

Kankuro882: I couldn't think of anyone else who would appreciate another Kankuro pairing as much as you do. I hope you like it.

Two things

Thing number 1: I have decided to do another story. I'm on a roll and I'm having fun.

I know there are folks who are really getting into my first fan fic: These Foolish Things.

Relax – Hinata and Kankuro's tale will be told.

I have no plans to stop "These Foolish Things". I will continue to write new chapters and update regularly.

I just want to do a tale with a slightly different format with a couple of random pairings that's guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows.

Thing number 2: I have used a slang term in this story. Rather than let folks wander around aimlessly trying to figure out the mystery of the meaning of said term… I have posted a definition for you.


ADJECTIVE: Inflected forms: snark·i·er, snark·i·est
Slang Irritable or short-tempered; irascible.

ETYMOLOGY: From dialectal snark, to nag, from snark, snork, to snore, snort, from Dutch and Low German snorken, of imitative origin.

Disclaimer:I do not own Naruto. We go through this every chapter posting, people!

That fine fellow – Masashi Kishimoto does. Don't go hunting me down for cash – I have none.

Please feel free to leave a review if you wish. It's always fun to hear what you think!



Round 1: The combatants meet

A red-haired young man sat behind a large desk which had been slowly choked for space with clusters of reports and sighed heavily. Gaara hated the paperwork side of being the Kazekage. He knew it was a necessary evil of the job, but that didn't make it easier to deal with it on a daily basis. He had been steadily reading reports for the past 4 hours and had made a significant dent in the towering piles. However, for the past half hour, he had found his mind wandering and thinking about his brother Kankuro. Gaara had sent his brother to the Leaf Village to assist with a mission, as per a request from the Hokage.

He was beginning to miss his brother's random visits to his office. Kankuro had this habit of showing up whenever Gaara started to feel the walls close in around him. It was uncanny how he did it but the Kazekage put it down to the fact that now that he and his siblings were closer, his brother had become more in tuned to his younger brother's moods. Gaara sighed again and was about to sneak out of his office in search of something to eat when he heard a knock on the door. "Come in." called out Gaara to the intruder. The Kazekage let out a silent groan… Those delicious rice balls of Temari's were going to have to wait for a while longer. It was shame though, he could almost taste them!

The messenger came in stammering his apologies for the intrusion, delivered the scroll that just arrived and stumbled in his haste to leave the room. Gaara gave the retreating man's back an evil smirk before he re-directed his attention back to the scroll. Even without Shukaku, there was always one ninja that was terrified of being the bearer of bad news. Gaara sighed wistfully at that thought. Even though he wasn't the demon-freak he used to be, some people still had difficulty letting go of the past. Oh well – it was their problem, not his. The Kazekage gave an elegant shrug and opened the scroll.

Dear Gaara,

I have arrived safely at the Leaf Village. The Hokage has assigned me to Team Asuma for the duration of my visit and eminent mission. That lazy-ass nin Shikamaru was asking questions about Temari. I really don't want him sniffing around my sister's iron fan or any part of her for that matter but our sister seems rather taken by the shadow wielder. I can't figure it out myself but that's women for you! Speaking of women - that she-dragon of a team-mate of his gave me the blackest look when I suggested to Shikamaru that he needs to find his manhood and ask my sister for a date rather than pester me for information.

Gaara chuckled to himself at that comment. He couldn't recall the woman's name off-hand but he remembered Naruto making some off-color comment last time he was in town about that one. The sand wielder frowned slightly trying to recall what it was Fox-boy had said about her. The youthful Kazekage pondered the door for a moment, and then he smiled – a very naughty little smile. Oh yes – something about the woman being the biggest shrew since Tsunade herself. Gaara frowned again… no, that wasn't quite it.

He brightened up when the memory popped to the forefront. Ahh - yes. Something along the lines of "If that harpy kept her mouth shut occasionally, she might actually get a man…" He had gotten the impression by the comment that apart from that unfortunate problem, the woman was reasonably attractive. Gaara recalled asking him if she was someone he needed to avoid like the plague. Naruto had sniggered at his comment and had crudely replied, "No – she's comely enough… I'd do her in a heartbeat if I wasn't with Hinata." The blonde ninja then continued, "She just doesn't know when to keep that fat trap of hers shut."

Gaara scoffed at the thought of Naruto ever betraying Hinata. He knew his friend worshipped the ground that the silver-eyed Clan-leader walked on. Goodness knows – it took the man long enough to figure that out. Naruto wasn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. If he was honest with himself, he was a little jealous of Naruto's luck at finding someone who loved him, despite the fact that he still had a Bij­u inside him. The Kazekage frowned slightly at the thought. There were plenty of women who were interested in him, that wasn't the problem. There just wasn't one that stood out from the rest that made him yearn to settle down.

Gaara sighed sadly – there was no point dwelling on it. If she was out there – just waiting for him, he would find her soon enough. He looked down and redirected his thoughts to the missive in his hand.

I am settled in at the inn and plan on going to some Korean Bar-B-Cue place tonight for dinner. Asuma is paying for it, so I guess I can't refuse outright. I will send another message towards the end of the week. Give my love to Temari.


P.S. – ran into that pink-haired medical nin outside the Hokage's office. I think her name was Sakura… not sure. Anyway, she asked about you and wanted me to let you know that she said hello.

Gaara stared stunned at that little post script. What the hell! He knew exactly who Kankuro was talking about but he thought she was still hung up on that Uchiha guy.

Well, well, well... The Kazekage put down the scroll and steeple his fingers, deep in thought.


Kankuro was trying to tune out the fishwife next to him but it was difficult. She'd been very snarky ever since he'd made that comment to Shikamaru earlier regarding his sister. He frowned over at the still fuming blonde. If he didn't know any better, he'd say she was jealous as hell. He sighed testily at the incessant noise of the woman spitting fire and brimstone at him. He was getting pissed with her theatrics and stood still, effectively halting her tirade in mid-sentence. Shikamaru and Choji continued walking – not aware of the two staring daggers at each other in the middle of the street. They had been dealing with the shrew for years… they had plenty of practice filtering her out.

"What's your problem!" hissed the irate blonde.

"You." replied the brooding puppeteer succinctly.

Ino stood gaping like a big river trout, at the shinobi in the kabuki makeup.

"If you're so green with jealousy over your team-mate's obsession with my sister, you need to do something about it." Ground out Kankuro through clenched teeth.

Ino's jaw snapped audibly together. No one was ever this rude to her face before. The thought never entered her head that no man was game enough to talk back to her because they were terrified of her verbal wrath.

"How dare you!" screeched the shrewish woman. The sand shinobi shrugged carelessly at this comment. He'd obviously hit a raw nerve and couldn't resist putting the barb in deeper. Hell… that inner imp was egging him on now - he may as well do his worst.

"Or… maybe the real problem is that you have told him how you feel about him and he doesn't return your feelings…" drawled Kankuro in a soft dangerous voice.

Ino flushed scarlet and stalked off after her team-mates.


The puppeteer strolled after the blonde at a more leisurely pace. He felt an evil little smile play along his lips. He was going to enjoy hanging around this team. Ino was much easier to rile than his sister!


The woman in question was spitting mad. How dare that cat-hooded creep talk back to her like that! And what was it with the kabuki makeup, anyway?

Ino refused to admit to herself that the infuriating man had found her Achilles' heel and drawn first blood. She was upset that he had figured it out so quickly. It hurt her that Shikamaru was so hung up on that witch with the giant fan. She quite frankly didn't see the attraction. Ino pouted at the thought. She was much prettier than that one.

The blonde was too oblivious to see that Shikamaru preferred his women less needy and a lot less noisy than his team-mate.

The kuniochi wanted to lash out at the puppeteer and leave a mark on that hateful smirking face of his. She felt a tell-tale spot of moisture drop onto her shirt and stopped abruptly. Ino brought her hand up to her face in mild surprise. When her fingertips came away wet, she realized that Kankuro's cutting observation hurt more than she cared to admit, even to herself.

Ino took a deep breath and tried to calm down. The man definitely knew how to get under her skin.

She wasn't sure how she felt about that…


Shikamaru and Choji were lazily meandering their way through the streets, when Choji stopped suddenly.

"What's wrong?" asked the lazy nin, "You out of snacks again?"

The normally garrulous shinobi looked around, clearly perplexed.

"No – it's not that… I have plenty of those still." replied Choji. He absently waved the full potato chip bag he held in one hand.

Shikamaru shoved his hands in his pocket and gave his friend a frustrated look. The chubby ninja sighed to himself. For a genius, he could be awfully dim sometimes.

"I don't hear Ino's screeching anymore…" The shadow wielder raised one of his eyebrows and frowned slightly at his best friend's comment. Come to think about it - it had been a while since he heard the distinctive tones of their shrewish team-mate.

Shikamaru looked down the road, deep in contemplation. The last thing he remembered was Ino walking down the road behind them, attempting to tear verbal strips off the sand shinobi. The shadow wielder smiled wryly at the image. He was partly to blame for Ino's backlash. The puppeteer was right – he should suck it up and ask his sister for a date. Shikamaru knew Ino was insanely jealous at the prospect of him seeing Temari but he saw no reason in letting her fool herself into thinking there was a romantic future between the two of them.

Shikamaru couldn't deny that he found a lot of things about Temari very attractive, whereas Ino… well, Ino reminded him of his mother. He shuddered. What a horrible image!

Ino was wasting her time trying to rattle that one though. Kankuro seemed impervious to her shenanigans. Shikamaru imagined that the sand shinobi had plenty of practice dealing with his sister's tirades. He thought about it for a moment… he couldn't picture that kind of thing being a regular occurrence with Temari somehow. She seemed a lot more emotionally balanced than Ino. "Women are so troublesome!" Shikamaru thought to himself.

He felt his friend's eyes study him quietly and knew Choji was still waiting to hear what plan of action they should take. The chubby shinobi cared too much about other people – even that fishwife of a team-mate. Shikamaru would have suggested to his friend a long time ago to ask her out on a date but knew Ino would have eaten the gentle soul alive.

Choji was way too nice to take her to task and that woman needed a firm hand to keep her in line.

"Don't worry, Choji. They will catch up with us at the restaurant." replied Shikamaru.

Choji studied his colleague in silence and mentally gave a sigh. His friend was right as per usual – Ino wouldn't miss out on an opportunity to dine out. She always enjoyed the tantalizing prospect of picking up some new gossip or juicy tidbits to tell her friends.

No – Shikamaru is right. Ino will be fine. I'm worrying about nothing again.

The chubby ninja shrugged in response and the two men continued on their journey.


Kankuro watched the blonde kuniochi stalk off in an effort to put as much distance between the two of them as she could. He wasn't proud of himself for cutting that close to the quick but he didn't like to see her deluding herself. She certainly wasn't kidding him with that ludicrous notion of hers that there could be any sort of relationship with her and shadow freak.

He didn't like the idea of Shikamaru dating his sister either but he knew that Temari could do a lot worse than the shadow wielder. Kankuro shook his head from side to side sadly. Ino needed a firm hand… preferably one on her backside on a regular basis.

The sand shinobi had a wolfish grin on his face at the thought. She really did have a fine rear though. He couldn't fail to notice it as she stalked away from him in all her enraged glory.

It was so high and firm! Kankuro was now sporting a decidedly evil grin on his face. He knew he was being a pervert but he didn't care. As long as he didn't act on those thoughts, he was fine.

The puppeteer sighed wistfully. He really admired her feistiness… there was nothing wrong with a woman displaying a little spunk from time to time. It certainly made the relationship more interesting… that's for sure.

It was just such a shame that she had a screech like a banshee.

Kankuro caught himself whistling a jaunty tune under his breath as he followed in the blonde bombshell's wake.


Asuma was already seated at a table with Shikamaru and Choji when he caught sight of Ino stalking into the restaurant. It was obvious she was mad as hell about something. The Jonin turned to the two men and raised an eyebrow in question. Choji shrugged in answer and the shadow wielder raised one hand and danced it above the table in a fluid gesture.

Ahhh – she was mad with the puppet master! Asuma gave a sideways glance in Shikamaru's direction and caught him grinning as well. They found the blonde kuniochi's foul mood rather amusing but they quickly hid it when she flounced onto a cushion at the low table.

Ino swept the table with her black looks, daring the men to just ask her what was wrong.

The men were no dummies – they knew that glare all too well. Asuma gave a cursory glance in Shikamaru's direction again and saw that he was looking at a figure casually strolling in through the door. Asuma had to give the sand shinobi credit. The man had to have brass ones to willingly take on their volatile vixen and walk away relatively unscathed.

Shikamaru watched his blonde team-mate openly bristle when Kankuro plopped down beside her. He quickly swallowed his grin before he got thumped by Ino. The shadow wielder couldn't deny that he didn't find her discomfort exceedingly entertaining. It appeared that Kankuro wasn't planning to deprive his captive audience by cutting the young woman any slack. The sand shinobi shot Shikamaru a particularly evil little grin before he turned to the young woman beside him. The shadow wielder had a feeling that he was about to witness the human version of a car wreck but there was no way he was going to turn away now. The puppeteer was clearly about to do something very, very bad… and he didn't disappoint Shikamaru.

He watched the man turn to his team-mate, swing up one her hands to his lips and murmur, "Ino, I was a real bastard to you just before… can you forgive me?"

Shikamaru watched the blonde kuniochi go rigid in shock then scarlet from head to toe when Kankuro dealt the coupe de grace and kissed the top of her hand.

Choji dropped his chips on the table in shock but nobody noticed… They were all holding their breaths to see what Ino would do next… Shikamaru was trying to figure if she was mad, excited, flattered by the attention or all three. Asuma was pretty impressed with the man's boldness. Choji was still shocked… no one had that big of a death wish to willingly want to kiss Ino – even if it was on the hand.

Ino didn't disappoint anyone with her reaction… in fact, she was magnificent. Kankuro saw the tiny flash of anger in her blue eyes before he felt the sting of her palm against his lean cheek. All activity in the restaurant halted momentarily as the sound of the slap reverberated throughout the establishment. The blonde kuniochi leaned in closer to the sand shinobi. Ino then snarled at him before she pushed herself up off the cushion and left the table in a huff.

The group still at the table watched in silence as the woman flounced over to the door and stalked out into the street.

The remaining team members felt their jaws drop when the puppeteer nonchalantly picked up his menu and shrugged. "I guess the answer is no, huh?" murmured Kankuro.