I do not own Naruto or any of the involved characters.
This is a Kankuro-centric one-shot set after the "Rescue Gaara" arc, so it might contain some spoilers.
"Hey, Gaara, can you get Kankuro? Dinner's almost ready!"
Gaara looked up from the book he'd been reading and gave his sister a slight nod. Setting the book aside, he rose to his feet from his position on the couch and started towards the stairs.
The top hallway was dark, and though Gaara wasn't really bothered by it, it still gave a sort of gloomy atmosphere, and he paused before knocking on Kankuro's door.
He'd been quiet since Gaara's rescue; ever since the Chuunin exams, the brothers had grown closer, Gaara even telling Kankuro about his dreams, but during the past two weeks, Kankuro had started keeping to himself, holed up in his room.
He hadn't even fought with Temari anymore, which meant that something was definitely wrong; while Kankuro and Temari loved each other a lot, they also bickered all the time, and when Kankuro silently submitted to Temari's bossy behaviour, Gaara couldn't help but worry.
"Kankuro?" Gaara called softly, opening the door when he got no reply.
The puppeteer's room was tidy, as far as Gaara could tell in the light of the Suna sunset coming through the window, and extremely quiet. His gaze fell on the chest of drawers that Kankuro kept all his stuff in, and the first thing he noticed was that the traditional puppeteer outfit his brother always wore was neatly folded on top of it.
As if in a daze, Gaara walked over, seeing a jar of kabuki paint next to the clothes, a little dust gathered on the lid.
When he looked at the desk, there were no tools, no puppet parts, no weapons; the only thing on it was a closed sketchbook.
But the thing that irked Gaara the most were Kankuro's precious puppets lying in the corner in a tangled mess of limbs.
Only now Gaara noticed the figure on the bed, lying still in the dim light. With a sigh, Kankuro sat up, the white sheets slipping off his bare torso. It was a rare sight, even for Gaara, to see Kankuro without the puppeteer clothes and Kabuki make up. "What is it, Gaara?"
Gaara's eyes fell on the puppets again. "You haven't repaired them yet?"
Kankuro followed his brother's gaze and scowled the slightest bit, staying silent for a few more moments before shrugging. "Maybe I never will."
The redhead's forehead creased with confusion. "Aren't your puppets precious to you?"
"Precious…" Kankuro scoffed, drawing his right leg up and leaning his arm over it. "You sound like that Uzumaki kid."
Gaara didn't really know how to reply to this; did Kankuro sound almost… jealous?
Upon seeing his brother's confusion, Kankuro sighed again. "What the hell does that Uzumaki kid do to people? First he changes you, then Temari, and now he got me thinking, too."
The redhead stared at the puppeteer for a long moment. "So that's what you've been doing? Thinking?"
Kankuro shrugged, turning his gaze away from his brother. "I don't think I'm going to repair Karasu and the others."
There was a long silence before Kankuro decided to answer. "I always bragged at being such a great puppeteer, but all I ever did was control the puppets I got handed down from Sasori. I mean, I did a good job doing that, but… it's like…" He clicked his tongue, searching for the right words. "You became Kazekage. You made your existence needed for other people. You're… you're gaining people whom you are precious to every day. And I guess it won't be long until that Uzumaki brat becomes the Hokage…" He looked at his younger brother for a moment. "Me, I'm just Kankuro, Sasori's successor. I talk about being great, but I'm not."
And this, this was new for Gaara. His brother usually had a healthy self esteem, and if there was any comfort needed, usually Kankuro was the one giving it, not receiving it, as both Gaara and Temari didn't really know how. "Kankuro –"
"I'm not going to repair my puppets." A slight smirk spread out on the brunette's face. "I'm going to create my own, and they'll surpass everything Sasori has ever made."
Gaara stood staring at his brother for a good ten seconds before the tiniest of smiles stole itself onto his lips. "Very well, then."
Kankuro got up from his bed and picked up the photo of himself and his siblings that he always had on his bedside table. He smiled down at it as he spoke. "I'm going to truly become the master puppeteer, and protect those who are precious to me with these very puppets that I create. That's, as the Uzumaki brat would say, 'my way of the ninja'."
"And if you don't get your 'master puppeteer' ass down the way to the dining room before dinner gets cold, you'll only have to worry about protecting yourself," someone growled from the doorway.
"Temari, knock before you enter!"
"The door was open, idiot."
Gaara watched his siblings argue as they made their way down the stairs, smiling slightly.
That Uzumaki Naruto truly had the power to change people.
So that was my version of what Kankuro might do after his puppets are destroyed.
This was my first Naruto fanfic ever.
Also, I'd like to mention that English isn't my first language, so if I made any terrible errors, feel free to point them out to improve my linguistic abilities
Reviews are greatly appreciated!