Chapter 12: Gaara
(---)Gaara's strangest memory of Temari was one when he caught a seven year-old Temari pressing her ear against the Kazekage's bedroom one morning.
Later that day, Temari mentioned bitterly (Gaara assumed she mentioned it to the pots and pans, because that's what she was looking at) that "men were pigs".
Kankuro didn't ask and Gaara didn't think anyone would react well if he asked.
So he left his confusion linger in the air.
(---)When Gaara became 'human' as Kankuro put it, he asked Temari what she had meant so many years ago.
"I hadn't really meant you and Kankuro, you know."
"But…what do you mean…?"
Temari seemed to mull over the question in her mind. "…Do you think I should've been allowed to become a shinobi?"
"Do you think I should be allowed to make my own decisions?"
"Yeah…" Gaara didn't understand where she was going with this.
"What do you think my purpose in life should be?"
He blinked. "Whatever you want it to be."
"Most men, in our village and others alike, think differently of women. They believe we should be slaves to the male population and live to please them."
Gaara thought that was the most ridiculous idea he'd ever heard.
(---)Upon becoming Kazekage he found papers that his so-called father had set forth into action to arrange Temari's marriage.
The marriage would allow Suna monetary benefit, a good ally, and other prosperous nonsense like that, but the man was rumored to be an asshole.
The first thing Gaara did as Kazekage was cancel that proposal.
He never told Temari.
She should be able to choose who she wanted to marry.
(---)Kankuro voiced his worries about Temari not loving the boyfriend she had.
Who knew his older brother cared?
Gaara told him to mind his own business, even though he secretly agreed.
Even though he thought Kankuro was in the right about it all.
(---)News of Dorisho's proposal reached his ears from other sources. News that Temari was going to reject him and why, came from his sister's own mouth.
(---)He probably worried about her a little too much. But she was his only sister, his older sister, and sometimes he thought her prejudices of men would get in the way of her life.
(---)The days Temari would come back from Konoha, he noted her improved mood, and on… rarer occasions, unusually foul mood. Regardless, returning from Konoha she was always either jubilant or bitter.
Never anything in-between.
(---)Hinata (Konoha's foreign ambassador) told him she suspected Temari was falling in love. When Gaara asked with whom she shook her head gently and smile.
He couldn't very well ask Temari. She might kill him just for suggesting it. "Have you met Temari?"
Hinata shrugged. "It's not my place to tell."
(---)It was Nara Shikamaru, Gaara decided one day. He was in Suna for some simple mission. What made him decide it was the shadow-nin was when he found his sister playing shogi with him – a lot actually – and continued playing with him even though she lost every time.
Temari hated losing, but no matter how many times she lost, the smile never slipped from her face.
(---)He wanted to hear her say it though. He had every intention of asking, but she beat him to it.
"I…Well, since you're my brother I thought…" she scowled. "I want to tell someone."
"I…L…love Nara Shikamaru." Her face was a terrible violent shade of red.
"DON'T tell Kankuro though. Or anyone else, okay?"
He was still smiling. "I swear."
(---) "Temari," he began tentatively.
"You said you…love Nara Shikamaru."
"Yeah, and?" The blonde blushed slightly at the mention of his name.
"Does he…ano…love you too?" Gaara wasn't sure if he was crossing a line, but he felt he needed to know.
His sister shrugged softly, her smile dipping into an expression of uncertainty, one Temari hardly ever donned. "I don't really know."
He pulled himself up to the kitchen counter and watched as Temari chopped vegetables. "Isn't it…?" He frowned, not sure what he wanted to say.
"I don't know if he does or doesn't and that's…well it's more than just a little bit frightening, you know? But, when it comes down to it, I don't think it matters, because well…Hinata tells me I have to take chances." She smiled, "I still think she's full of it, but I like…I like being with him, and I'm willing to try. He makes me feel…happy, you know? It's…weird."
Gaara loved the way she smiled right then as she was explaining how she felt with him, about him, because of him. He liked the way her whole face seemed to smile, and despite how aware she was of her vulnerability, she never looked more beautiful than she did then. "I'm glad, neechan, that he makes you happy. Your very rarely happy."
(---)Most people, Gaara found, were very…frightened to be alone in the same room with Kankurou, him, or both. Nara Shikamaru though, just seemed incredulously bored to be called into his office.
The shadow-nin was slouched in his chair, eyes drawn to the window on the far left, mouth drawn into an uninterested expression. It was
actually pretty interesting. Especially considering Kankurou had attempted to 'snap him in half' five minutes ago. Kankurou was leaning against the wall glaring furiously at the lethargic boy.
Gaara sighed. "Explain. Someone."
"I didn't do anything." Shikamaru responded lazily at the same moment Kankurou angrily spit out, "This jackass is only using Temari!"
Gaara glanced at Shikamaru expectantly.
The shadow-nin sighed. "What do you want me to say? The idiot is merely—"
"Let me kill him, Gaara."
"You aren't killing anyone, Kankurou, understand me?" Gaara grumbled. "What are you four? You should be able to settle your matters without attracting the attention of half the village. Which, if I recall correctly, were on Nara's side."
"They were only on HIS side because they didn't know the whole story."
"Please, Kankurou, tell me, what IS the whole story?"
"There is no story!" Shikamaru exclaimed.
"He's cheating on Temari with that anorexic blonde Yamanaka."
Shikamaru sighed, "She is not anorexic."
"See! He's cheating on her!" Kankurou exclaimed.
The lazy shadow shinobi looked ready to start yelling. "Listen carefully: I told you then and I will tell you again, I am not cheating on Temari with anyone. Temari is the only female I am even remotely interested in!"
"Liar." Kankurou accused gravely. The puppeteer made a move towards Shikamaru.
Gaara held him back with his hand. "Kankurou, shut up." He turned back to Shikamaru. "Are you playing a game with my sister?"
"No." He said clearly. "I am not and I never will. Temari is special and I would never do what Kankurou so confidently accuses me of doing. I love her." He paused abruptly as the last words slipped from his mouth. "Huh."
"Huh!" Kankurou exclaimed. "He says 'huh'! Like it's no—"
"Kankurou, shut up. Nara," Gaara smiled slowly, "I think Temari would like to hear what you just said to us. You're excused."
(---)He still found it strange that Temari would choose to give her heart to a chauvinistic shinobi.
"It isn't about choosing," Hinata told him once. "It just happens."
He supposed it would have to be that way.
Though, he'd never heard Shikamaru act chauvinistic after Temari's influence on him.
(---)She was smiling far too widely, Gaara thought, as his sister walked into his office. Sure it was nice to see her smile so nicely and meaningfully, but…
"What is it Temari?"
"I'm getting married!" she said cheerfully.
And he smiled, because that's what brothers are supposed to do. They smile and congratulate and make sure it'll work. He smiled because it was the right thing to do, but the thought of her leaving Suna didn't make him feel like smiling at all.
(---) "Don't you want her to be happy, Gaara?" The timid pale girl asked of him.
"Of course I do, I just…"
"She's never going to stop loving you, marrying won't change that."
"She's going to live in Konoha."
She smiled, "So? You see Naruto, Shikamaru, Lee, Kiba, and me all the time. You'll see her even MORE often because she'll make sure to take every opportunity to see you and Kankurou." The girl leaned comfortably against the wall, "its okay to be sad, but remember, don't be too sad. Her love for you and Kankurou will never fade."
(---)She was right after all. Temari visited as often as possible and talked so often it was almost as if she'd never gone.
And he was happy, because she was happy.
Because when things were this good it wasn't hard to be happy.
(---)They were wrinkly and tiny and had beetle-ish looking eyes. Gaara frowned looking down at the odd creatures in Temari's hands. "Are you sure these are people?"
"Of course they're people, Gaara! They're your niece and nephew!"
His frown deepened, "They look like pale raisins."
(---)He was scared the twins would break if he touched them.
Shikamaru urged him to.
She was beautiful.
He let it slip that Tsukiko would be a lovely name.
They named her Tsukiko.
(---)Temari and Shikamaru let Kankuro name the boy. Kankuro named the boy Kiyoshi.
In hopes that the boy would be quiet like his father and not take after his violent loud mother.
It sort of worked.
Kiyoshi generally was a quiet child, just not to his uncle Kankuro. He was unusually loud around his uncle.
But despite being quiet, he had his mother's, to quote Kankuro, 'bitchy' personality.
Kankuro's plan didn't work out quite so well.
(---)He couldn't think of any other person Gaara would trust with his sister's safety.
He trusted Shikamaru.
Shikamaru truly loved Temari.
And, despite all his pointless rants about 'troublesome women', he held no ridiculous notions of what Temari should be just because she was female.
(---)Further proof of that, was Shikamaru helping Tsukiko become a ninja, upon the young girl's request.
She mastered the jutsus quickly and became a ninja along with her brother.
Tsukiko became the first female ninja to come out of the Nara clan.
Yet another tradition Shikamaru broke.
(---)Gaara didn't let the marriage go without a threat. On the day of their marriage, Gaara made his stand clear. "Hurt my sister and I will kill you. Kazekage or not, I'll kill you."
"I wouldn't expect any less." Shikamaru responded seriously.
(---)Gaara never had to kill Shikamaru.
A/N: Tada! Finite. Well, what do you say?