Hot Sand

Chapter 7

by Lemon Drops/thatreevesgirl (both me)


(Three Weeks Prior to Sakura and Naruto's Trip to Suna)

Temari was so homesick that she could barely handle another day of life surrounded by joyful Leaf-nins. Konohans were content to wander around in a place where fall was filled with colored leaves and bitterly chilled mornings, mornings that made Temari's teeth chatter. She had always avoided missions to anywhere there was snow or temperatures below freezing for a long period of time, and if the frost on the ground outside was any indicator, she living in an unavoidable hell. Even in the middle of winter Suna never dipped down to these temperatures. Shika had been sweet and tried to buy her warm clothes to bundle up in. Unfortunately, they only made Temari feel trapped and claustrophobic in all the fabric that she was inevitably enveloped in whenever she was forced out of her home to run errands or do a mission for Konoha.

Sitting at the table waiting for Shikamaru to come down for breakfast, Temari grumbled some more and realized that she wanted to take a trip home, Shikamaru still hadn't come out to eat, so Temari decided to go to him. The lazy man was still in bed, contentedly snoring as he dreamt the morning away.

"Wake up!" Temari told her husband, hopping on the bed next to him and hovering over him with a menacing glare.

"Shush," Shikamaru told her, not realizing he was about to meet his wife's wrath in about three seconds.

"I said wake up, Shika!" Temari demanded, shaking her husband's shoulder vigorously.

"And I said shush," Shika muttered, pushing Temari away.

"Fine, I was just going to let you know that I'm going to take a trip to Suna to make sure my idiot brothers aren't destroying the country in my absence." Temari stared at Shika, hoping for some kind of dialogue with him.

"Whatever…how long will you be there?" Shikamaru asked, rolling onto his stomach and attempting to bury himself in the covers on the bed.

"I don't know, maybe a week," Temari told him. Much longer than she expected to stay, but she didn't like how easily Shika was taking the news that his newly wedded wife was going to leave him and take a trip home without him. Newly wedded couples weren't supposed to desire long absences from their mates.

"Whatever," Shikamaru muttered, adding a, "How troublesome…" from under his pillow as he covered his face with it.

Temari was furious, absolute irate at the thought of Shika being so understanding and allowing her to go. He was supposed to argue with her…or offer to go along. She stood up off the bed and stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind her in a way that made Shikamaru sigh before returning to sleep.

Temari arrived in Suna and everything was surprisingly good. Nothing had fallen apart and no one had died in her absence due to her brothers' mishandling of her true home. This actually made her want to cry as she realized that Suna didn't really need her…it was all just a fallacy and Temari became conscious that she wasn't as important to the foundation of her homeland as she had thought.

"Temari?" came a familiar voice from behind her as she stood outside her old home. "Did that bastard Shikamaru throw you out?"

"No Kankuro, he didn't throw me out. I mi…" Temari cut herself short. She wasn't sure that she wanted her brother to know that she had missed him. "I hate cold weather."

"It only gets worse from here on out, snow and everything Temari. You'll freeze your spiky little ponytails off," Kankuro teased, laughing at his sibling. "You should have had Shikamaru move here, that lazy brat could have lazed about in the sun and you would have been happy."

Temari growled at her brother as Kankuro waved at a group of approaching dignitaries, led by Gaara. The group of men and women entered the Kazekage's mansion and Kankuro let out a discouraged huff as soon as everyone was inside, preparing himself for another boring day of meetings.

Temari lifted an eyebrow and scoffed at her younger brother, "Having trouble keeping Gaara in line?"

"No, not Gaara…that damned boyfriend of his! Coming to Suna almost every week and making me work. We've had six meetings with those stuffy diplomatic bastards this week. I'm sick of sitting in meetings and bickering about things that don't even involve Suna, and it's all because of that stupid blonde Hokage." Kankuro growled and glared at his sister.

"You whine too much Kankuro," Temari said with a grin. "I think you're jealous of Gaara's newest plaything…lonely little brother?"

Normally Kankuro would have snapped back with a response such as 'of course not' or 'with as many women as I have in my bed'…but not now. Ever since Sakura had left picking up women just seemed empty and shallow…not as fun as it used to be.

"Silence speaks volumes, Kankuro," Temari told her brother in a calm and almost understanding way. Her facial features softened and an almost shy look of concern seemed to grace her eyes. "What's wrong? Is there something I can do to help?"

Kankuro's left eye raised in suspicion, Temari never acted like this before she was married. She was brutal and ruthless most of the time, not at all caring about Kankuro or Gaara's personal affairs, and definitely not interested in either of their love lives. Kankuro knew that she loved her siblings, but never once offered advice or help with anything of the sort. The puppet nin swallowed a dry lump in his throat and continued to watch Temari with mistrust… 'Is this even Temari…she shouldn't be back so soon…it must be a spy using her appearance as a disguise,' Kankuro mused, lacing the strings to Karasu quickly and preparing for battle.

"What in the hell are you doing?" Temari screeched, smacking Kankuro with her fist on top of his head. "I ask you what's wrong and you reach to attack? You are so obvious with your movements."

"Who are you?" Kankuro growled at the person that couldn't be his sister, there was no way that it was her.

"I'm Temari of the Sand, your sister!" Temari yelled at Kankuro as Karasu suddenly appeared leaping from the mansion, ready for battle as weapons were posed at many of the appendages of the puppet. "Would you like me to prove it to you?"

"I think that would be best," Kankuro grumbled, changing his posture to remove any openings that the imposter Temari could use to attack.

Though the puppet-nin thought he had erased all probable avenues for his phony sibling to get close, Temari easily found a space to weave her way in and whispered something in Kankuro's ear that made him turn bright red. "Now do you believe me? I swear Kankuro, you are the most moronic man I have ever known."

Karasu backed down and returned to a more compact form of himself before moving back toward the mansion. Kankuro was still blushing at the little factoid that Temari had reminded him of, one that only he, Temari, and Gaara knew about. Kankuro fidgeted nervously as he tried to divert his attention from the memory of the most embarrassing moment of his life. "He's changed you, Temari."

"Who's changed me?" the blonde woman snapped.

"Shikamaru…you've gone soft."

Pulling her fan from her back, but not unfolding it Temari hissed a warning to Kankuro, "Tell me that again and I'll show you who has gone soft."

"Yeah, yeah…I know you haven't gone soft in battle, but I think you're hearts gotten a bit mushy," Kankuro muttered while rubbing the sore lump on his head that Temari had pounded into his skull earlier.

"Mushy? I think the only thing that has turned to mush is your brain, Kankuro. Now why is it that you are having problems with women…I've never seen you worried about that before."

"Why should I tell you?" Kankuro didn't want Temari to know the hell his heart was going through, or that he hadn't been with anyone else since Sakura left Suna "I have a meeting to attend, unless…"

"Unless what?" Temari asked, lifting an eyebrow in disdain at her plotting brother.

"You always liked putting those dignitary bastards in their place, care to come with and remind them that Suna still has enough spitfire to take them if they dared to try anything?" Kankuro asked with an evil chuckle. The old fogies from Mist would definitely get an earful from Temari if they repeated their disrespectful attitude that they had been abusing the last few days. Seeing them put in their place by his feisty sister was something that Kankuro would definitely like to see.

"I think that sounds nice…I've missed having someone to argue with, Shika just mumbles and ignores me, so I'm overdue for a good 'debate' of sorts." Temari cackled a bit, making Kankuro grin. At least it had distracted her from his love life and was going to give him some definite entertainment during the usually dry meeting. Without saying anything else to each other Temari and Kankuro headed into the mansion, ready to take on the Mist diplomats and any others that decided to question the authority of Suna.


A clink of glass was heard in Kankuro's study as he and Temari toasted each other over a good day's work. Temari had been as fearless and ruthless as Kankuro had predicted, completely pissing off Gaara and Naruto who had lectured the two sand siblings thoroughly at the end of the meeting. Neither Temari nor Kankuro really cared about what the two leaders thought, the eldest Mist representative had it coming to him. This is what led Temari and Kankuro to a drunken celebration of sorts, complete with sake while holed up in Kankuro's private quarters.

"Damn, Temari, I haven't seen that Mist bastard so upset since Gaara refused the concessions he had proposed at the beginning of this hellish week. I'm glad that you came home," Kankuro drawled, buzzed and nearing completely wasted.

"…this isn't my home anymore, Kankuro. I live in Konoha," a drunken Temari told her brother sadly.

"At least you have friends there, it could be worse," Kankuro offered along with more sake to refill her cup.

"Yeah, but it's cold and I don't have…" Temari's voice trailed off. She really did miss Gaara and Kankuro. They had been such a large part of her life for so long and now the three siblings were separated. For a time her brothers were all she had, and the three shared an unspoken bond, one that wasn't easily broken even when great distances divided them.

Kankuro looked at her with a strange expression, one that was a cross between confusion and humored drunkenness. "What don't you have, Temari?" he asked her with a chuckle, expecting the answer to be warm weather or power or some such non-sense.

"I don't have the rest of my family," Temari told Kankuro quietly. "I miss you and Gaara. I may have friends in Konoha, but somehow it's not the same."

Kankuro didn't say anything in direct response to Temari's admittance that she missed her siblings, only laid an unsteady drunk hand on Temari's shoulder and gave her a gruff "Hmph" and a nod of his head. "More sake?" he finally asked, breaking the moment between them.

"Yes, please," she mumbled, completely unnerved by her brother's attempt at consoling her…they were both going soft. "So what is your issue with women, you never told me."

Kankuro rolled his eyes, he had been hoping to avoid the topic, but it did seem a better pick than getting all weepy about the loss of the person he considered himself closest to in the entire world. He'd never tell Temari, but she really was his best friend.

Temari in her drunken state didn't wait for an answer from Kankuro and started spouting off reasons that seemed plausible. "Did one of your little wenches give you something more than a fun ride…because I think that there are medicines for that kind of problem…or is it just a performance issue? Shika has had that problem once or twice…are you getting it up alright?"

Kankuro spat the sake that he'd been leisurely sipping out in a spray of shock as he tried to comprehend his sister (drunk as she was) talking about him having erectile dysfunction. "Stop, Temari. Just stop," he grumbled, trying to will her to talk about something else.

"Well is it that or that?" first pointing at his crotch and then at his heart. "It's always one or the other, Kankuro."

Kankuro hurriedly drank down the remaining sake from his cup and poured himself more. "I don't want to discuss it, Temari."

"I think you do. You always get drunk with me when you want to talk, it loosens your lips," Temari told her brother with a devilish smirk as she grabbed the sake bottle away from Kankuro and filled her own cup since he hadn't offered to give her more.

Kankuro didn't answer, only gazed off into a corner. To most people it would appear that he was completely ignoring Temari, but the blonde woman noticed when Kankuro's hand slyly moved up his chest and pointed to his heart.

"Who is she?" Temari nearly whispered, seeing the hurt expression that seemed to be creeping onto Kankuro's face.

"Someone that I can't have," he murmured. "Naruto says she refuses to come to Suna with him and I went to Konoha last week and she was too busy to speak with me."

"You were in Konoha last week and you didn't visit me?" Temari roared at her brother. "I miss your stupid ass and you can't even come say hello to your own sister."

Kankuro raised his hands to his face in defense of the sake cup that was flying toward him at an astonishing speed. Quickly ducking, the cup zinged by Kankuro's head and smashed into the wall behind him. "Hey! I did visit you, but you were on a mission. Shikamaru told me that he'd inform you that I'd stopped by."

The anger dripped away from Temari's face as she muttered an apology for throwing the sake cup at Kankuro. Kankuro only nodded and offered her a new one, freshly filled with more sake. Taking a sip of the liquid Temari grumbled, "He didn't tell me."

"I figured that out when you nearly killed me with that damn cup," Kankuro chuckled. Silence once again filled the room, and neither sibling said anything for a few moments.

"…Sakura…"

Temari was confused, but only for a moment before she realized why Kankuro had brought up one of her closest friends from Konoha. Sakura was the one that he couldn't have. Just for good measure, she repeated the name in the form of a question, "Sakura?"

Kankuro nodded, but didn't say anything else, only pouted a bit and then returned to drinking.

"You have it bad, don't you?"

Kankuro furrowed his brows and then glared at Temari. Damn her for making him realize this…that he really did…

"Fight for her," Temari told Kankuro, interrupting his thoughts. "Don't back down, that isn't like you at all. Fight for her."

"She doesn't want me, Temari."

Temari scoffed and rolled her eyes at Kankuro, "As much as she's been moping around lately, I highly doubt that. You forget that I hear a good portion of the girl gossip from the kunoichi's of Konoha…and I happen to be privy to a few good rumors."

"Like?"

"Like a certain pink-haired friend of mine broke things off with Kakashi and swore off men, but apparently she had a fling during my wedding with someone in Suna that has been plaguing her mind. I never found out who, but I think I can make a good guess now."

Kankuro ducked down into his chair, blushing a bit, but that was hidden by the redness from drinking. "She talks about it?"

"Ino talks about it, Sakura has been completely tightlipped about her relationships recently. Apparently Sakura had fallen pretty hard for her sensei, but he broke her heart." Temari informed Kankuro. "Ino has been trying to get her to pursue her Suna interest, but Sakura's heart isn't ready. That's why I think you should fight for her. It's obvious that you made some kind of impression, she's just not ready yet. Give her time and then show her why she should be with you…romance and all that crap."

Kankuro laughed at his very unfeminine sister, "Sometimes I'm not sure you are really a woman, most of your gender likes romance."

"And who says I don't?" Temari hissed. "I like it as much as any girl. Shika is very romantic."

"Then why are you here in Suna, rather than with your husband? He obviously did something wrong," Kankuro observed.

"He won't argue with me," Temari told Kankuro.

"You left him because he won't argue with you?"

Temari gritted her teeth at her brother who was most definitely mocking her, "Shut up, you wouldn't understand."

"You're right, I don't," Kankuro chuckled, "I definitely don't understand you or Sakura. So you really think I should pursue her?"

Temari smiled at her brother, he was so obviously smitten with the pink-haired Konohan. "Yes, Kankuro, you should. She would be a good match for you."

END OF CHAPTER


A/N's: No cuts this chapter, it is intact. I'll keep posting new chapters the next few days.