What's in a name? A Naruto by any other name would be un-owned by me.

I don't own the whole "what's in a name" thing either.

Late-night angst. Kind of OOC. (Hey, you don't know how caring Gaara may have gotten! This is five years after the timeskip and all.) Brotherly love is so fun to write, even when it's disappointing! Awkward ending. Awkward beginning. Awkward middle. I don't care! I likes it.

Gaara had known Kankuro wasn't well suited to the ordinary shinobi's lifestyle, impatient and lazy as he was. Round peg, square hole. Square hole with spikes on the inside. Poisoned spikes. Poisoned spikes with exploding notes all over them. Very, very bad.

Now, on top of that, a stupid B-rank mission. A solo mission. One that he had actually accepted. Temari didn't really see a problem with it, but the wary Kazekage did. The stupid puppetmaster was making the stupidest of mistakes. Now, gazing at his face, stained orange and pink by the tinted light of the setting sun, he recognized his last chance.

Kankuro beat him to the punch.

"You don't want me to go." Not a question.

"I don't," Gaara whispered. His brother's catlike eyes narrowed in a thoughtful frown, an expression rarely seen on his face, one that seemed out of place.

"You realize that doesn't matter." No question there either.

"I do."

Kankuro sighed in response. "I'm your older brother. I'm supposed to worry about you."

"I know."

"So why do you…?" The query went unasked, but the meaning was still there.

"If you get hurt, you can't worry about me, can you?"

"Ugh." Gaara had the most annoying logic. "What makes you think I'll get hurt?"

"You've gotten hurt before, haven't you?"

"Not badly."

"Stabbed and nearly poisoned to death isn't 'badly' hurt?"

"That was five years ago, Gaara!" He was getting frustrated. "I'm twenty-two now. That means…that means a lot of stuff!"

"Ah." Kankuro had the worst logic.

"Besides. You're the Kazekage. You gave me the mission!"

…Sometimes, anyway.


"I'm not weak anymore, Gaara. I'm pretty damn awesome, in fact."

"I know, but…"

"Hey. Look—I promise I'll come home the moment I'm mortally wounded, mm—kay?"

"Very funny, Kankuro."

"Bleh. You've just got no sense of humor."

"Or you've got a bad one."



"What? Where?"

"How immature you are! 'Shuddap?' What the hey kind of tough ninja talk is that?"

"My kind?"

"Sure it is."



Both brothers turned back to the desert sun, now nearly completely hidden beneath the sand. Gaara could still see Kankuro out of the corner of his eye. Quickly, before the latter opened his big mouth again and ruined the moment, he drank in the older boy's appearance. The same black clothes he'd been wearing for years, accompanied by the same black hood. His hair hadn't been cut in months, and it stuck out from under the cat-eared hat on one side, lazy and messy and brown, nearly covering one feline eye. He had gotten even taller, finally stopped at a towering height. If it wasn't for his blocky frame, he would've looked absurd, but with his square jaw and wide shoulders, he pulled it off quite nicely. Three summoning scrolls were still tied to his back, his kunai pouch bulging with a mini-puppet arsenal, mostly bird-like: bombs, messengers, some for surveillance. He'd even taken up a hobby—not surprisingly, making puppets. Half weren't even suited for battle, just impersonations of monkeys and bats and kittens and dogs and even a brightly painted frog, strewn across his room.

"I'm still going."

"I know."

Kankuro frowned. He and Gaara were close, but it was still odd for him to show this level of concern. Tentatively, one gloved hand reached out and rested on a pale cheek beneath a mop of red hair. It felt awkward to both boys; neither was the physical type. But all the same, both knew what the younger of the two needed.

You better appreciate this, because I'll probably never do it again.

Slowly, one enveloped the other in a warm embrace, black sleeves wrapping around white and blue Kazekage robes. Kankuro hugging Gaara. Gaara hugging Kankuro back. Words escaped his lips, foreign words than didn't belong their but had to be spoken sooner or later.

"Gaara, you're my brother. I love you. You know that, don't you?"

There was a sudden tension—one holding his breath, waiting for another's answer, silence too awkward to ever end…


"Oh." The sleeves fell away, back to the body they belonged by. Not anyone else's body. That was wrong. The redhead felt the heat of his brother's hug leave, disappointed. He turned. He walked away. All in a second, too quick to watch. A second that took minutes. A second for Gaara. And it was over.

The sun set, the moon rose, the stars twinkled. An hour later, and still in that second, the Kazekage turned to his long-gone brother.

"I love you, too, Kankuro. I love you, too."