Author's Note: The final chapter of this story. The next story, Art of MURDER, should be out shortly (actually, the first chapter is posted now. You should go read it after this). It's Gaara and Sasuke's story, which takes place roughly six months after this. It will have plenty of KanKi, even for those of you who don't like SasuGaa. I really, really hope you read it…it will provide answers to things I failed to cover in this!

So, hope you guys liked this chapter…I did my best to update faster! (Hey, it rhymes!)

And um…please review?


Thirteen. The Great Escape

Kiba

It's funny how on the brink of death, all I could concentrate on was the fact that Kankuro was safe. I didn't care how or why, or that it was my blood he was licking from his lips. All that mattered was that he was alive, and he was going to live and be happy. That was all I could think about.

And that was when I realized I loved him.

xxx

"Kankuro…" I breathed. He was there, so close…not hurt, or even scarred or…

Beep. Beep.

"Kankuro?" I blinked. He was gone.

Beep. Beep.

Something brushed against my face, then moved down my stomach. I knew it was him.

Beep. Beepbeepbeepbeepbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I jolted upright, then immediately regretted the action. My shoulder burned. I blinked, sleep-woozy eyes slowly adjusting to the room. Kankuro was standing over me, eyes a bit swollen, a split upper lip oozing apart as he smiled. He coughed and slid a hand up his shirt, replacing the electrode he'd removed from his chest. "I knew that'd wake you up."

"I love you."

He laughed hoarsely, and coughed harder than before. "I guess saving my life does that to you, huh?"

I gripped onto his t-shirt. "I mean it," I whispered. "I really do." I stared hard into his eyes, and he didn't look away.

"I know."

I moved to kiss him, but he made a motion to wait. Wait? Why? I didn't want to wait! I was just about to sit up and yell at him to get his ass over to my bed when my shoulder stung again. I winced and slid back down into the covers.

Kankuro shoved him own bed from across the room next to mine. He took a kunai out of his pocket and unscrewed the bolts that connected the armrest to the bed. He did the same to my bed, and soon we had a larger bed for the two of us.

He had just lain down next to me when the overhead light blinked on, causing us both to squint. The room had been dark, and now the light was too much. I could see both of our wounds much more clearly, and it made me wish we didn't have them. I wished I could have been there to save him sooner. I wished that I'd never left his side.

Sakura stood over both of us, arms on her hips. She didn't look mad, but she wasn't exactly pleased, either. "Playing with our vitals monitor again, Kankuro?"

He grinned, but it only made him look guiltier. "Maaaaybe."

She sighed. "Take off your shirt, please. I'll reattach them so they stay stuck."

He complied, and I winced as the bare skin of his chest came to light. There was a large, foot-shaped bruised over his chest, and his stomach was covered with tiny red bug bites. His shoulder was bandaged like mine.

"Getting better, I see," Sakura said. "Yes. This bruise looks less prominent now. It's fading very nicely."

I winced. "That's what you call 'nice'?"

She glared at me, and I kept quiet for the rest of his examination. Sakura came around to my side of the bed, where she peered at my shoulder, making little "hmm" noises with her mouth, but not really saying anything.

"How's Uchiha?" I managed to spit out.

"Fine," she said. I could tell she didn't want to talk about it. "He's sulking in his apartment." I moved to ask something else, but she stopped me before I could. "No, he's not getting charged for your wound. It's a casualty of war, same goes for any of the wounds inflicted on Kankuro or Gaara. Konoha and Suna were still at war when the wounds were inflicted, so there's nothing we can do. It was all in defense of the names of our respective countries."

"You said we were at war," Kankuro said from the other side of the bed. "Does that mean Gaara's finally agreed to a treaty?"

"We're working on it." Sakura's face screwed up in concentration as she changed my dressings. "Tsunade almost has Gaara at agreement, but he keeps telling her it all has something to do with Sasuke. She doesn't understand it and frankly, neither do I." She bit her lip and cinched the bandages shut. "I hate politics."

xxx

Five minutes and a few removed articles of clothing later, Sakura was back in the nurse's station, and Kankuro was exploring various parts of my body. I would have returned the favor, but I couldn't move my arm.

A deep laugh came from somewhere below me; I gasped and arched my body. Kankuro's mouth was on me, and his lips were warm while the room was dark and cold. I could feel my heart racing, and my breath quickened until I was barely breathing.

The vitals monitor began to beep like crazy, and the door exploded. Sakura ran in, stopped, threw a condom at Kankuro's head and told him not to be "stupid."

I think it worked.

xxx

It was two months later that Sasuke and Gaara got into their fight outside Kankuro's new apartment. Nobody saw it except for the two of us and Naruto, who lived just down the hall with that other weird kid named Sai. I heard they told Tsunade the whole story, and that was how she finally convinced Gaara to sign the treaty so he could go back to Suna.

Uchiha said he didn't care when Gaara told him he was going. The last I saw of Uchiha was at the gate when Gaara left. They were fighting again.

"Glad you're leaving," Uchiha said.

Gaara smirked, and I noticed the dark rims around his eyes seemed even darker. "Maybe next time we meet you'll actually be able to kill me."

"Maybe you won't be a chicken."

"Maybe if you're lucky I'll give it to you quick and painless. Then you can escape. That's what you want, isn't it? Escape."

Kankuro squeezed my hand, and I realized he was scared. Scared for Gaara, scared what this whole conversation meant.

"Death isn't a means of escape," Uchiha said quickly. "It's a coward's way out."

"Is it?" I had never seen Gaara look like a Kazekage so much as he did in that last moment before he left us at the gate. "Coward," he laughed. "You have no idea."

xxx

Kankuro held me in his arms, his skin sticky with sweat. I smiled and took a deep breath. We were here, alive. We were together.

"Kiba," he gasped. "Kiba. I think…I think we…"

"Yeah?"

He laughed, and his face scrunched up, all the purple lines melding together. "I think that time we knocked a few stars from the sky."

"Yeah," I whispered. "Yeah, we did."

I took a deep breath. The air coming in from the open window was cool, clean…it felt so good to simply be alive.

So why…why couldn't I pull Gaara's last words from my head?

"Is it?"

"Kiba?" Kankuro asked. "Is something wrong?"

"No," I smiled. I moved back against him, snuggling further into his arms. "It's nothing at all." He sighed and pulled the sheet over us. I sighed too, out of happiness more than anything else. The war was over, and it had turned out the way we'd wanted it to. Everything was right again.

We were right.

"We were right," I said into the darkness.

"Huh?"

"We were right. This is how we belong. It doesn't matter about loyalty to anything but ourselves. It's okay now."

He kissed my neck. "Go to sleep, Kiba. 'Night."

""Night, Kanky," I murmured. I fell asleep with a smile on my face, my love pressed against my body.

xxx

And somewhere in the darkness, Uchiha Sasuke wandered. He couldn't sleep, not when those words were running though his head. It made him wonder.

"Is it?"


End.

For more of the story, please read the sequel, Art of MURDER. Thanks to all of you who read this 'til the end.