Trouble Brewing in the House of Sand

Chapter 8: Temari and her Brothers

At their mother's funeral, only Kankuro thought to cry, and although many of the spectators clucked their tongues and whispered sympathetically about the "poor little orphaned thing," it could not really be said that he was crying because his distant and unaffectionate mother was dead. He was crying, Temari suspected, because he was two and confused and uncomfortable and bored. She dug through Gaara's diaper bag and found a doll that had once belonged to her and gave that to him.

Her brother quieted, Temari began to notice the people around her, and it made her uncomfortable. "Why's everyone staring at us?" she asked the teenage son of her father's unimportant flunkie Baki, Baki Jr, who had been commissioned to watch the three children while their father and uncle presided over the burial.

"Because of your brother," Baki Jr. answered. He was a very practical young man and didn't believe that concealing the truth from Temari was going to help her out any in the years to come. "You should get used to people staring at him."


"Because he harbors the spirit of the sand," the boy answered, not caring if the toddler was following the more advanced language or not. "That, and your mother tried to kill herself to keep him from being born."

"She did not!" Temari objected to the slanderous rumor that had brought most of the spectators to the funeral in the first place. "Uncle Yashamaru says that she loved Gaara."

Baki rolled his eyes. "Your Uncle Yashamaru is a crackpot, and crazy to boot. Tell me, Temari-chan, did your mother love you and Kankuro?"

Temari shook her head.

"Then what makes you think she loved Gaara?"

The girl bit her lip thoughtfully, and Baki chuckled at the expression. "You'll be living with that nutcase you call an uncle. My advice is to be less gullible."

"Living with Uncle?"

"Oh, definitely. Your father can't control you three. He can barely control this village." Did we mention that young Baki Jr. has very strong anti-Kazekage political views? Well, he does. He patted Temari on the head, thanking God that he wasn't Yashamaru. Those three kids were fast on their way to being little hell-raisers, and he was just grateful that this funeral was the only time he'd have to take care of them.

Temari sighed and stared at her father and uncle, standing across the grave from her and her brothers. Gaara, lying in the baby carrier next to her, was amusing himself by swirling sand in front of his eyes, and he suddenly let out a happy little giggle.

Temari smiled at him and returned her gaze to her older relatives, to find both of them staring at Gaara, their attention drawn by the tiny noise. She gasped. The pair was glaring with such an intensity that it frightened her. To her three-year-old's perspective, such an angry, hate-filled look was capable of harming a tiny little baby like Gaara, and thinking only of his safety, she stepped between the baby carrier and her father and uncle's line of sight.

I have to get stronger. Mr. Shukaku held up his end of the bargain, and we're safe from Mom and from Dad, for a while, but I can't depend on him forever. I have to be stronger, so I can protect Kankuro and Gaara...

Here her thoughts became less reflective and more defiant, directed at the coffin that contained her mother's remains.

Because I love them, Mama. You and Daddy and Uncle don't, but I do. And I'm going to keep them safe. I'm going to be strong. You'll see.

Gaara, age three days, tried to focus his eyes, but found that it was easier for him to have the sand swirl wherever his eyes happened to feel like looking. In the distance, black shapes wandered around, looming overhead and speaking in booming, eerie voices, but it didn't bother him much. He had the sand, and the smaller figures next to him, and as far as he was concerned, as long as they were there, everything would be ok.

End: Trouble Brewing in the House of Sand.

Bonus scene!

"I'm curious, Temari," Gaara said dispassionately after watching his sister threaten a girl who was looking at her and her brothers sideways. "Do you defend us so vehemently because you truly love us, or because you want to prove that you can be a better parent to us than our mother and father were to you?"

Temari, still panting from the sound thrashing she had threatened the other girl with, stared at him for a moment. "Look, it's affection. Take it or leave it."

"I wasn't complaining," Gaara shrugged.

A/N: Well, this has been fun, hasn't it? -crickets- Or not...

A lot of people write second-generation Naruto fics, but I've always felt that Naruto is kind of a second-generation thing... all of the parents that show up fascinate me, especially the Of the Sands. Wouldn't it be great if there was a prequel anime about everyone's drunk crazy folks? What would it be called? I vote for InoShikaChou: the Lost Files, but only because I know that the Hyuuga twins would never get their own spin-off.

Sorry, rant is over.

I know this story is a little different, and really on crack, so thank you for bearing with me until the end! Have a good day, a great life, and may all your fanfiction searches be fruitful!