Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay, this will be the last chapter before the 'Final' chapter of The Trouble With Me.

I don't know when I'll be able to post it.

I'm sorry.

-Olly BaaBaa-Chan

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Gaara turned off the engine of the car and sighed. His wonderful afternoon with Sakura was over, and it was now time to face his family. What would they say to him? What will I say to them? He wondered. As he stood up out of the car, a cool breeze brushed past him and chilled the skin of his forearms. Everyone was going to have to start dressing warmer soon; the cool breath of autumn was unmistakable.

The kitchen was deserted when Gaara entered his home, but he could hear the tv in the next room. He sauntered towards the sound. Kankuro was sitting on the couch, watching some band perform during the halftime show of a football game. Gaara sat down as well, but his brother ignored him. Gaara couldn't tell if it was out of fear or anger. "Where's Temari?" he asked solemnly.

"Upstairs," the older brother grunted, still focused on the television. "In her room."

It was all the information Gaara needed. He stood up and made a beeline for his sister's room.

Something tugged on the back of his collar.

Suddenly he was falling backwards. He became well acquainted with the kitchen floor linoleum in that moment; his back, head, and arms were all laid flat against it. His headache seared, and he looked around angrily for his attacker.

But his attacker was his brother. Gaara glared at Kankuro in shock, but the tattooed face remained emotionless. Kankuro had never struck his younger brother before. Never. They didn't always agree with one another, sure, but it had never become physical. In fact, Kankuro had always held a certain level of fearful respect for Gaara, just like all their other friends. He'd never once pulled the "I'm the elder brother and you're going to respect me instead" card. He'd always been content to just be the goofy older brother, the one to tease and joke.

Not the one to drag his little brother to the ground. Literally.

"What the fuck?" Gaara snapped. He pushed himself off the floor.

"What do you want with Temari?" Kankuro demanded.

Gaara's anger grew. He tried to push past his brother, but Kankuro was unexpectedly quick. He shoved Gaara back once again, this time with his own anger shining in his eyes. He asked again, "What do you want with her?"

Gaara tried once again to simply shove past Kankuro, but the latter was determined. With all his might, he pushed Gaara up against the nearest wall and tried his best to pin him. Gaara fought back, struggling against his brother's hold on him. When had Kankuro become so strong? This is dangerous, his inner voice warned. He could already feel the anger forming into something else: the adrenaline, the testosterone, the blood lust. He didn't want to hurt Kankuro, but if they didn't stop soon, he wouldn't be able to control it.

"Get the fuck off me!" Gaara demanded. He gripped at his bother's forearms and tried to push him away, but the fatigue and sickness from the night before was beginning to show through. Kankuro wasn't about to budge.

"Tell me what you want with her!" he demanded again.

Gaara's stubbornness fought back. He growled angrily. "I don't have to fucking tell you anything!" He aimed it, he shot it. A knee directly into his brother's gut. Kankuro coughed and leaned downward, his grip on Gaara loosening. The redhead freed himself from his brother's grasp and advanced forward, but within seconds Kankuro was on him again. He pulled Gaara back down by his leg. The anger boiled. The growls echoed in his head. Gaara's vision blurred slightly. He needed to stop.

But you're almost there…You can finish him…

Gaara spun quickly around and caught his brother in a choke hold. He could feel the blood pulsing underneath his fingertips.

Yes… yes that's it… there's blood there… fresh clean blood that needs to be spilled…

He wagged his head, trying to free himself of the horrible thoughts racing through it. He just needed to talk to Temari… talk to both of them… find out what happened… explain to them what he'd seen… explain to them why…

"I just," he forced, "I just need to… to talk to her." Why was that so much harder to say out loud?

Kankuro's face was purpling, matching the color of the markings on his face. He was thrashing his legs and clawing at Gaara's arms. Gaara shouldn't have been enjoying this, enjoying the struggle underneath him.

"I won't…" Kankuro gasped, "Let you… hurt her… again."

Coldness seeped through Gaara's pores. He released his coughing, sputtering brother and backed away. The anger was gone. The adrenaline, gone. A new, much stronger feeling was fermenting in his gut now.

Guilt.

Her cheek. He'd somewhat guessed he'd done that to her, but… But now it scared him. Too quickly for Kankuro to react, Gaara was sprinting up the stairs and into his sister's room. She was lying on her bed, with music pumping into both her ears. When he entered, she looked up and quickly stood in surprise. Gaara never came into her room. Why was he here now? Why did he look so… she paused and took her ear phones out. Her little brother looked almost… worried.

Her motherly, sisterly instincts kicked in. She advanced towards him, cautiously, and asked, "Gaara, what's wrong?"

Gaara turned his gaze away from her and punched the wall next to him. The bruise on her cheek had worsened and spread. It now reached up and around her right eye, and it was swollen. She couldn't open her eye all the way. Now Gaara understood why Kankuro was so defensive. That morning, when Gaara left for school, he hadn't gotten a good look at his sister. He'd only caught glimpses. Now he was fully seeing it for the first time, and it sickened him. He'd gotten in plenty of fights throughout his life. Everyone knew that. He'd left his mark on numerous young men that had been bold enough to approach him with a fight. Kimimaru was just one example. Sasuke was a second. He'd even received his share of cuts and bruises in return.

But he'd never…

Ever…

Hit a girl.

No matter how much of a stubborn, defiant, rogue Gaara was, he retained that small shred of chivalry. But now he was looking at his own handiwork against the tanned features of his sister's face. His mind screamed, It was an accident! But it didn't feel like one. His sister had practically raised him. She was the closest thing he'd ever had to a mother.

"Gaara?"

"I'm sorry," he choked. Temari froze. Gaara? Apologize? She gingerly touched her swollen cheek and swallowed thickly. He turned around to face her just as Kankuro stumbled through the door. His neck was red and his eyes were watering. Temari rushed to him. "Kankuro! Oh my God, what the hell is going on?"

Kankuro's angry, watery eyes focused on Gaara, who had nothing to say in defense.

"I'm sorry," he rasped again. It seemed to be no use. Hardly ever did he utter those words and now they didn't even seem to be working. Serves me right, I suppose. He slumped down and held his head in his hands. I really am a monster.

"You're not a monster," he heard his sister whisper. He glanced up at her in surprise. Did I say that out loud?

"Yes," she nodded slowly. Gaara rubbed the stubble on his chin and chuckled. He was more exhausted than he thought. He took a breath to prepare himself.

He asked, finally, "What happened last night?"

"You really don't remember anything?" she asked hopefully. Gaara shook his head 'no'. Kankuro glowered and Temari took a deep, shaky breath. She told him how, after he'd disappeared upstairs, she'd realized he hadn't had a real dinner. "I was going to let you go without," she confessed, "Because I was mad at you for rushing out on your bike, you know? And for what you said afterward when you got home." But instead she'd given in to the responsible voice in her head and marched upstairs. She knocked on his door, but Gaara didn't come. There were noises coming from inside, though. "There was grunting." Her unmarred cheek reddened with embarrassment. "I thought you were… you know…" she cocked her head to the side to indicate what Gaara had already guessed. He grimaced and waited for her to continue.

She was about to leave and go back downstairs, thoroughly disgusted, but then she heard him call out a name. And it definitely wasn't Sakura's.

Gaara swallowed. Hard. Kimimaru.

Temari went on to explain that she'd cracked the door open. She couldn't see well with the lights off, but she could make out Gaara's body on the bed. She turned on the light.

"Your eyes were closed," she remembered, "You were sweating and thrashing your arms and legs and groaning. I called up Kankuro for help."

They tried repeatedly to wake up their little brother for several minutes. Gaara only continued to suffer beyond their reach of help. "We didn't know what had happened." Kankuro mumbled.

"We were scared for you," Temari whispered.

Gaara gazed guiltily back at them. He'd only wanted to sleep…

Kankuro then continued the story. They finally got a response from their little brother. "You tried to get out of the bed on your own, but you fell down. Temari tried to help you, but…"

I disfigured her face, Gaara realized. What a way to show my gratitude.

Kankuro told how Gaara had tried to walk his way out of the room, but he was too sick and unsteady. "You threw up in the hall," The Nyquil. "And then passed out."

So that was it. Gaara couldn't remember any of it past the dream itself. Then he'd woken up in the early morning on the couch in the same, sweat-soaked clothes he'd gone to bed in.

"I just wanted to sleep," he muttered. "I took Nyquil. I just wanted to sleep." Temari scooted around and sat beside him. Her fearless closeness was comforting. Gaara told them bitterly about his dream. Kankuro sighed and sat on the other side of his little brother.

"I'm sorry about before, man," Kankuro apologized, "I was just angry, ya know? I shouldn't have pushed you." Gaara nodded in acceptance, though he felt like he was the only one who needed to do any apologizing.

Temari planted a kiss on Gaara's forehead and attempted to lighten the mood. "So who's hungry?"

Gaara looked over to his brother, who gave him a grin and a wink. "I'm starving."

The redhead sighed. "So we're cool?"

Temari smiled and Kankuro ruffled his hair. Gaara smirked. Good. He was rather hungry. "Never ruffle my hair again."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, that's that.

I hope you've enjoyed the story thus far.

Thank you,

-Olly