Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto and not me.
A/N: I'm not entirely sure this format is allowed on FFnet with the numbers, but I think it's enough of a story regardless. The format is based off one called '20 Truths', where you aim to describe a character without using a profile. It's a very unique way of story-telling and I find it very enriching. I wrote this one a while ago, but I hope you still enjoy it.
Oh, and the pairing warning is TemaShika, with a couple other non-descript ones in there somewhere.
Summary: There are many truths to this world - these ones belong to the wind, to Temari.
The Desert Listens for her Name
1. Temari feels the hot sand burn through the sandals on her feet. She's been in this desert her entire life. She knows it like a child, one that is temperamental, ever-moving, and always speaks the truth.
The desert has never lied to her. It may hide a secret, but it always reveals in the end – like how it revealed her father's rotting corpse.
But she never cried. The desert had dried her tears long ago.
2. When Kankuro had been born, Temari remembers how the smile on her mother's face grew brighter. It was like with every new life, she found a little more life in herself. Temari felt it too. She begged her mother for another little brother or sister. She begged every day for two years.
And then Gaara was born.
3. She remembers the funeral, the screaming baby boy. She held him in her arms as the coffin descended into the depths of the ground. She stared at the headstone with her mother's name on it. Eventually, the sand would come and hide it away.
And still the baby screamed and screamed. He never stopped. Into the day and night he would scream for the next few months.
But it wasn't for his mother. Temari remembers the screams of her mother as she lay dying on that bed, the once-white sheets blood-soaked and dripping. Even after her father had smashed their mother's jaw into pieces to try and silence her, she had continued to scream embittered curses.
She had only died when the baby was finally torn from her ragged body.
They had buried her with the urn.
The baby continued to scream.
He was cursing the village too.
4. For many years after Gaara's birth, she would run away into the desert. The desert would always strip her back down, take away her emotions, and leave her feeling like she was nothing more than the wind. She would lie on a sand dune and stare up at the cloudless sky.
'If only I could be the wind,' she would say, over and over again until the words no longer even felt like they had a meaning. 'If only I could be the wind, I could leave this place.'
But she never could leave the desert. Her wings had been clipped when Gaara had been born.
5. Temari sorts through the box labelled 'memories'. She finds an old wooden doll. It's been many years since she's seen this. Kankuro used to drag it around everywhere…
He used to be a cry-baby, doll in one hand, and his mother's hand in the other. He would follow her down the street, the doll's feet dragging on the ground behind him. He only ever wanted two things – his mother and his doll.
When his mother had been taken away from him, he had been heartbroken. He only had one thing left in the world now, and when it finally sunk in that his mother would no longer be coming back, he tore his doll apart.
Temari had picked up the pieces. She had to be strong, like her mother had been. She practised everyday, doing the same smile her mother had once done. And she repaired the doll. She gave it to her little brother and gave him the smile.
Until he grew out of it, Kankuro would walk down the street, doll in one hand, and his sister's hand in the other.
6. She hated Gaara.
She hated him like she hated her father.
But her father was the lesser of two demons, and the devil she knew better.
Gaara… he was the devil she didn't know. And it frightened her. She had trembled in terror when she saw her uncle's body being brought down from the roof. Even though he was wrapped in a sheet, the blood seeped through and left a trail on the ground. The trail led straight into the desert.
They had left him there, without a coffin, without a headstone, without even any sand to cover him. He stayed there for days, bloating and rotting in the sun while the vultures pecked through the sheet to his corpse. The desert had refused to bury him.
Temari watched, day by day, until all was left was a skeleton. The desert had stripped him of all he had been.
She continued wishing she could be the wind. She could have forced the desert bury him.
7. 'I'm going to be the wind,' she said stubbornly.
She dragged the fan behind her. It was twice her size, and nearly as heavy. She had saved up for months for it. Nobody had given it to her as a present – this was going to be her own achievement. When she had bought it, it had been ordinary. Nobody had ever thought such a frail and decorative thing could be a weapon. Temari had bought it though. She didn't see it as something to hang on a wall – she saw potential and strength. She was going to make it a part of her, and she could become part of it. They would become the wind together.
She made it stronger. She gave it pride. She made it her own.
And with it, she scaled to the top of a cliff, where she learned… learned to become the wind. She leapt from the cliff top and she was the breeze. She felt no fear. The wind was never afraid.
Temari was finally the wind, but she kept herself grounded. If the wind wasn't afraid, then it wouldn't be afraid to stay a little longer.
8. Temari never asked to be a ninja. But it had always been expected of her, just as it had been with her siblings. She squeezed the headband in her hand before tying it around her neck. She was a Shinobi, a Kunoichi, a Soldier of the Sand. She would have to blindly follow the orders of her superiors… even if it killed her.
She took the A-rank mission without hesitation. She had to. It was her duty.
As she left the meeting room, she gave her father a glance. He never looked at her anymore. His stare only rested on Gaara.
This was what the mission was – suicide. She was thirteen. Kankuro was twelve, and Gaara ten. They were children, marching to their deaths. Their own father was sending them to their deaths.
'I don't want to die,' whispered Temari. Kankuro stayed by her side and squeezed her hand.
Gaara… Gaara walked ahead, whispering to his 'mother'.
Temari stood and watched as the ground under their feet became soaked in blood.
'If you don't want to die, kill everyone else,' Gaara said with a smile. 'Isn't that right, Mother?'
Temari decided to become the Wind, unforgiving, relentless, and chilling to the bone. She cursed the name of her father, just as her mother had done before her.
They marched back home, covered in blood that was not their own. Finally her father looked at her.
He called her a cold-hearted bitch. He said he liked that, that she was just like her mother.
9. The wind blew itself out one day. It was the day that Kankuro told her she had changed – that she wasn't the sister he remembered. Her warmth had gone. She only intervened because she had to.
Temari shook her head and denied it.
That night, she cried herself to sleep. The wind had become as cold as the look in her brother's eyes as he stared up at the moon, muttering to himself about how he wasn't alive.
She wished she could remember how the wind used to feel when it was happy.
10. She remembers the look on the blond-boy's face, as he lied in the dirt, tears running down his face; she remembers the look on her brother's face, as he lied in the dirt, a strange calm in his eyes.
And then he apologised to her.
She picked her brother up in her arms and held onto him tightly. She'll never let go.
Everyday since, she has thanked that blond-haired boy, who gave her back her warmth.
11. She had met him during the Chuunin Exam. He yawned in the face of the wind and called her troublesome. She struck back at him, but she couldn't catch him.
He was a shadow on the ground, untouchable by her. He was untouchable to the wind, no matter how strong it roared.
Somehow, she found a spark of admiration for the spiky-haired kid.
He still called her troublesome – he always would.
12. Temari never went to her father's funeral. If she could have had it her way, she'd have made the desert refuse to bury him, just like how it refused to bury her uncle.
Instead, she went to her brother's coronation to become the Kazekage. It was a quiet affair.
Later that night, the three sat on a cliff-top, staring down at the village as lights trailed through the street – vigils for their father leading to the graveyard.
Gaara commented that their father had ruined their lives.
Kankuro commented that their father had never given them their own lives.
Temari commented that their father was no longer in their new lives.
It was the first time they smiled together. They stood on the cliff-top, yelling out childish insults against their father and the fools who had worshipped him.
13. She won't ever talk about those days when Gaara had been taken. She won't talk about the pain she went through when he wasn't there. She only talks about the days after it, when they'd returned home.
Kankuro often asks her why she won't speak about it. She always responds with the same thing though – 'Big sisters aren't supposed to let their little brothers worry'.
14. Temari loves her brothers. They are her world.
She loves Kankuro– the face paint, the puppets, the way he wiggles his fingers to make them dance.
For her birthday, he gave her a collection of ornamental dolls.
For his birthday, she disposed of his collection of dirty magazines.
She loves Gaara – the smiles, the calm in his eyes, how he speaks so protectively of her and Kankuro.
For her birthday, he kissed her on the cheek.
For his birthday, she told him to never change.
15. When they're older, Temari will confess to Kankuro that she's a little jealous of him and his relationship to Gaara. She'll never quite understand the bond between brothers.
She'll be shocked to know that they always talk about her.
She'll be even more shocked to know that somehow the subject always changes from her to what's in the latest porn magazines.
At least she'll be glad she's not the one who has to tell Gaara about the birds and the bees.
16. She laughs the first time Gaara brings home a girl. She's a short little thing with a stubborn chin and a chip on her shoulder. Temari stops laughing when Gaara confesses the girl reminds him of her.
She laughs the first time Kankuro brings home a girl. She's a tall leggy thing with perfect breasts and a shapely ass. Temari stops laughing when Kankuro confesses the girl reminds him of her.
She knows they'll both laugh at her when she brings her first boy home. But she'll try her best to laugh with them. After all, Shikamaru's a pretty strange guy.
She tells her brothers he reminds her of them both. They all laugh together.
17. Konoha has changed a lot since she first visited. She considers it a second home now. She knows the forests around it like a grandmother, one that is inviting, quiet, and is good at listening.
She and Shikamaru walk through the forest, hand in hand. They talk to each other, and to the forest, who always has open ears. They make a lot of plans in the forest – like what day the wedding will be, and where they will have it.
They make something else in the forest too. Gaara and Kankuro will be surprised in nine months.
18. Temari will always be a mother. She became Gaara and Kankuro's mother when their own mother died. She wasn't very good at first, but she learnt. She quickly adapts again when she becomes a real mother – though changing diapers has never been her strong point.
'I never knew so much could come out of something so little,' her husband always comments whenever it's his turn to change the baby (Temari makes sure it's quite often).
'I like to tease Gaara and tell him that when he was a baby his diapers were always full of sand,' replies Temari. She laughs.
'You're going to have to teach Kankuro how to change diapers soon too,' he tells her.
Temari can only laugh harder at the thought.
19. She'll always blame herself that Gaara died young. He died protecting those he loved.
When they find his will, Temari cries. He says he wants her to be Kazekage, because she is the wind, and her gentle embrace supports them all.
She takes the job. She doesn't know that one day they'll make a statue of her and place it at the gates, where it will welcome all those that enter, her arms open wide.
In the future, they'll think the lady from the statue was a goddess.
20. Temari will lay flowers on the graves of her brothers everyday. She'll place an extra flower on the grave of her husband and smile.
'Do you like the view here, Shikamaru? It's right under the sky.'
She'll stare up at the sky a lot in her final days, wondering what the future will hold for her village. Finally, when she dies, she'll truly become the wind, and her spirit will soar.