Kankuro was almost finished disposing of the body when Gaara found him. Shukaku's container paused at the edge of the clearing, tilting his head slightly.

"He was not a puppeteer." It wasn't stated as a question, but Kankuro had had years to learn Gaara's nuances.

"No, he wasn't." Kankuro couldn't help but scowl down at the severed head he was holding by its long, greasy dreadlocks. "Moron. Wouldn't know a puppeteer from a Border Patrol chunin.." He sounded personally affronted, and probably was.

"You let him think that you believed he was." Gaara continued, gesturing towards the other parts of the Mist nin who had clumsily entered their camp looking for his elder brother. It had been a Kuroari job, by the look of the bones, surprisingly white in the dark red mush of organ and meat.



Kankuro considered this for a moment, leaning on the edge of the old well he had commandeered for his purpose. The blood spatters on his face and arms seemed like ink splots in the moonlight, or stray daubs of the paint that covered the blank white canvas of his face. The head, with its expression of slightly horrified surprise, balanced between the puppeteer's knees as he twirled two dreadlocks like a jump rope. He tilted his head, blinking at the night sky, then looked back at his brother.

"Because it was fun." He said with a shrug, and a carefree grin that showed far too many teeth.

Gaara seemed to consider this for a while, then nodded.

"Can you teach me that trick?" he asked. "With the eyes and the kunai? I don't think the Sand could do it so neatly."

Kankuro smiled. "Sure, otouto." He looked at what was left of the body. "Uh, I know this is sort of short-notice, but could you...?"

The Sand flowed from the gourd in a small stream, wrapping itself around the last few bloody bits of the mist nin, squeezing.

"Thanks." Kankuro said, shifting around. "See you later, bastard. Better luck in your next life." He tossed the head down into the well, where it made a solid thump and then splash as it hit the bottom.

"Puppeteer my journeyman's eye." He grumbled, then looked at his arms. "I suppose I should go get rid of most of this blood before they realize they've lost another scout." He glanced at Gaara as they headed into the trees. "You want the rest of them? Temari got the last two, so you're up.."

"If you don't mind."

"Nah," Kankuro said, "art is tiring, jaa."

"My brother." Gaara said deadpan, "the artist."

Kankuro's laughter echoed through the trees.


A/N: Because insanity flows in that family like cheap talk from a two bit whore. Yet another in my line of 'okay, maybe they're all batshit crazy' fics. Gotta love quality family time. Read and review!