Temari and Kankuro have always struck me as having a really strong bond due to the circumstances they grew up under, and recently, I felt compelled to write about it. You can interpret the extent of their relationship any way you wish. I'll keep my stance on it to myself unless you really want to know. ::grin:: Hope everyone enjoys!

Temari sort of knows why this happens between her and her brother.

Actually…that's not entirely true.

There is no "sort of" involved here. She knows why.

"Let me just put my head in your lap for a little bit. My nerves are shot to hell." Kankuro gives her that look she's become quite familiar with, the slightly mournful look that says, "my pet goldfish died and it fucking sucks," or something of the sort.

He's been giving her different variations of that look since they were kids. And every time, it's like she's never seen it before, like he's springing it on her out of the blue and all she can do is be the good big sister and cater to him rather than think about repercussions.

"How's my lap gonna help, moron?"

He's already starting to lie down before she moves her arms out of the way, since her moving them isn't an issue. He knew she would, and she did, too. Clockwork, really.

"It's not your lap," he mumbles, closing his eyes. "It's you."

That last part is spoken so quietly it may as well be a whisper carrying from another room. Temari has to strain to hear it.

She says nothing for a while.

"Sentimental, Kankuro?" Her fingers slide through his hair, rub slowly against his scalp because he likes when she does that. He likes when she does a lot of things. Mending his clothes, for one. Leaving him stupid little notes to find if she's away on a mission or if he's in a bad mood. Sitting together on his bed at night with his sheets tented over them while she holds a flashlight and he tells her about his day or invents ridiculous stories to make her laugh.

Of course, they bicker and occasionally beat each other up—Kankuro doesn't hold back because Temari plays dirty—but it's in the nature of siblings to squabble and they aren't about to balk in the face of time-honored tradition.

So they carry on doing what they normally do, and they'll include Gaara if he leaves openings that they can infiltrate—he does this most often when he's groggy, and they've made it a point to watch for the signs.

He usually retaliates by assigning them the shit jobs that nobody else wants, but his candidness during those moments when they're all together and enjoying themselves makes up for that.

Still…Temari and Kankuro have a different sort of relationship, part of which isn't shared with their brother. They grew up together while Gaara was isolated from them, and in that time they became close. They had to, the way their father more or less ignored them. He only paid attention when he required their skills, though Temari preferred such an arrangement. She knew his negligence hurt Kankuro despite the fact that he wouldn't come out and say as much, and she'd rather he not be exposed to daily reminders of how little he mattered as an individual in the eyes of the Kazekage.

She remembers overhearing her father talking to his lackeys about Kankuro once, late at night. She'd been on her way to the kitchen for a glass of water and she passed by his study, pausing at the sound of his voice though the door that was left slightly ajar.

"…nowhere near as gifted as Sasori. He makes a mockery of himself, but he is the weakest of the three. It's a marvel he's survived as long as he has."

Face drained of color, Temari stood there, hands clenched into fists. Before he disappeared, Sasori was venerated in the village, a puppeteer like Kankuro. According to the stories, he had been at the pinnacle of his strength when he vanished, nearly equal to a kage. Her father had no business comparing him to Kankuro. He didn't see how hard his son worked, the bloody fingers and bruises, the meticulous care he took with Karasu.

But Temari did. She bandaged his fingers and fussed over his bruises—the ones that she herself hadn't made, anyhow. She accused him of liking Karasu more than he liked her and laughed when he blushed and told her to sod off. And in a fight, he was the person she trusted to watch her back.

The study grew silent, and her father's cold eyes met hers.

She stared at him, noting with disdain that he looked at her like she was just another link on his chain, not his daughter, not the flesh of his flesh.

Turning on her heel, she ran through the empty, echoing halls to Kankuro's room, breathing hard—whether out of exertion or something else, she couldn't tell. Her hands shook as she opened the door.

There was her brother, sprawled across his bed, half wrapped in sheets and snoring.

Her eyes burned.

"You aren't weak," she whispered severely, as if daring him to contradict her. "You aren't." She scrubbed her eyes, but the burning didn't stop.

Kankuro stirred.

"Temari…?" He sounded gravelly, like he'd been sleeping. "What're you doin'? You okay?"

Instead of answering she came inside and shut the door, then crossed to his bed and crawled up next to him. Wordlessly, he wrapped her in a possessive hug. "You'd better explain tomorrow," he murmured, and fell asleep again.

Chewing her lip, Temari lie awake in his arms, the unbearable burning in her eyes spreading to her throat, her chest.

He wasn't weak, but she'd protect him. She'd let nothing, no one, touch him.

She lied to him the next day.

"I had a nightmare." She grinned and cuffed his head. "Who else could scare my monsters away?"

Slowly, Kankuro returned the grin. When they were little, he always said he'd make her monsters disappear if she had a bad dream.

"Come on." He grabbed her by the wrist. "I learned a new trick yesterday, and I want to test Karasu on you."

Now, years later, he still doesn't know about the things their father said, but Temari carries the knowledge with her.

That's why she moves her arms for Kankuro to rest his head in her lap. That's why she sleeps in his bed a few nights a week. That's why she locked herself in her room after he was nearly poisoned to death and smashed her mirror, broke her alarm clock and her desk chair, and shattered all the valuable trinkets she kept on her bureau.

That's why, when he gives her a look full of need, she allows him to take.

Because she needs him more than he needs her. He just hasn't realized it yet.