Happy B-day, Naruto! (who only has a minor role in this, but it's not as if I had written this specifically for his birthday, it just happens to coincide)

This was beta'ed by no less than three persons: Major thanks to Marley, who undertook the massive corrections, Tsusami for the style, and Elina for the sense. You all made a great job, thanks!

Prying Ear vs Patient Eyeball

Temari was loyal to Suna and her Kazekage. She would not hesitate to put her life on the line by fighting S-class renegades, swallowing a dollop of poison or sacrificing a couple of limbs if that meant ensuring the safety of the village and its leader. She was proud to serve him; through the years he had proven to be a dedicated leader who never made decisions hastily and never let prejudices cloud his judgement. She would never have dreamt of doubting his decisions.

But Suna's Kazekage also happened to be her little brother.

It changed everything. She had no right to question her Kazekage, but the little guy who was unable to do his own laundry, who constantly forgot to put the lids back on either the toothpaste or her favorite soda and who was as emotionally mature as a freshly hatched chick... not so much.

It was a constant line to walk, but so far she thought she had managed, obeying her Kage while protecting her brother.

Then Uzumaki happened. Again.

She had already noticed that Gaara nursed a deep interest in him (since she was neither stupid, blind nor deaf) but wouldn't have gone as far as Kankurou, who labelled it 'obsession'. Regardless, it had not worried her since she thought it was good for her brother to have a role model, other than Shukaku's demented voice, to seek guidance from. Besides, up till now Naruto had always been far away, had always been busy saving someone else.

But then the threat of the third war occurred and disappeared, leaving the boys seemingly closer than they were before. Uzumaki, in between bouts of saving the world from maniacs that seemed to pop out of nowhere, started to spend more and more time in Suna and with its leader.

Meanwhile, Gaara was growing up. He shot up a few inches taller and his cheeks lost most of their remaining baby fat. He started looking less like a doll in his oversized Kage robes and more like … a man. A handsome young man.

And this never struck her as much as when Gaara was waiting at the gates, for Uzumaki to arrive. His green eyes would burn with a quiet light and it seemed to Temari that her brother was not with them anymore but already somewhere beyond, in the horizon, with his friend.

She worried, and tried to ask Kankurou about it. He apparently was the one Gaara had chosen as a confidante. But the puppeteer would only shake his head, annoyed, and not answer her questions. Despite her nagging nature, Temari would not pursue the matter. In doing so, she would admit that she didn't know as much about Gaara as she would have liked, and that would have forced her to acknowledge the reason behind it: that Gaara kept her at arms' length. He would confide in Kankurou, but not to her, ever.

She couldn't blame him for that. Kankuro had been the one not to give up on their psycho brother, and recall their bond, no matter what. She had been the one to close off a tiny bit of her heart and act out of duty toward him. No wonder he did not trust her to open up now; he must have thought that her worries spawned from her sense of responsibility just as they did in their younger days.

But oh, she did care. And yes, perhaps guilt was part of it, but still. Now Uzumaki was showing up even more, and he and Gaara would spend time in his rooms, alone, more; and Gaara was looking at him in a way that made him seem more adult, more alien and okay, now she was worried because maybe her Kazekage and little brother was walking down a path he was probably not prepared for. Well, one she didn't have time to prepare him for; preferably by using leaflets and long talks about The Importance of Feelings and Commitment, The Hardships Of A Long Distance Relationship and Never On The First Date.

She could trust Uzumaki but only to an extent… he was somewhat rash, probably as inexperienced as Gaara in some areas, and just as clam-like when it came to talking about what the hell they were up to.

And it was unfair to Gaara, but she wanted to know what was really going on, not to pry, no, just to see if she could...help, but if neither of her brothers wanted to talk to her about it, then…

…Then it so happened that if one were on the fourth floor of the Kazekage's tower with one's feet chakra-glued to the balcony rail of the last window on the left, while trying to, say, water one of Gaara's outdoor cacti, it was possible to hear what was happening in the Kazekage's bedroom.

That is, if the windows were opened, or if a bit of a well-placed wind jutsu had slightly blown open the small squared one right above the bed, the one where the hinges had been strategically oiled beforehand.

That was why Temari could be seen right now literally hovering above her brother's room with a watering can in her hand and a frown on her face. The two men had not spoken for at least five minutes. Temari did not like silences between them: there was very little that could shut Uzumaki up and she just hoped her little brother's lips were not part of it.

But when she was ready to ditch any pretense in watering and investigate further, Naruto finally spoke.

"I was thinking... You never told me what you thought of your first time."

Temari tensed. Those words... probably didn't mean what she first thought of. She forced her too imaginative mind to shut up so she could follow the conversation.

"First time for what?"

That was a relief. If Gaara himself couldn't spot the innuendo, he was probably still... hm, okay.

"What do you think?" Naruto sounded amused.

"Oh... that." Gaara paused long enough for his sister's brain to whisper nasty things to her. "It was nice."

"Nice? That's all?" Now Naruto's tone was vaguely offended.

"I was a bit nervous and..." Gaara seemed to hesitate a bit, "scared. As you said, it was my first time. I didn't know what to expect."

Naruto still was incredulous. "Come on Gaara, everyone knows it's enjoyable and everyone loves it!"

"Never said I didn't like it. Just that I probably did not enjoy it as much as I could have."

His friend sighed. "And here I thought I had you nicely relaxed and all... you trusted me with this and obviously I failed..."

"No." Gaara's voice was firm. "I wouldn't have chosen anyone else for that, and just because it was with you, made it nice. And..." Here, a hint of warmth coloured the usual bland tone. "... It still is."

Temari undid her sash as silently as possible. She wanted to reach for her fan and castrate Uzumaki in the same move. There was no way she could fool herself any longer. That little blonde sneak had dared to take advantage of her brother's inexperience, and he deserved to suffer. Gaara was probably going to sulk, but it was for his own good.

Trying to subdue her killing intent as much as possible so as to not cause alert, she detached one foot from the balcony and reached the wall, ready to take a leap right into her brother's room, when Naruto's words stopped her.

"Still, you should have asked Shikamaru, he's the real expert in that area."

Temari faltered. Expert? Since when? With whom? She had only let him reach third base!

"Yeah, my sister's love interest. Now that would have been awkward, imagine: 'Hello, I know you're dating Temari and we have seldom talked before, but want to make a detour by my bed?'

Naruto's laugh danced quietly up to Temari's shocked ears.

"... But I did consider asking Kankurou instead of you."

Naruto's laughter died abruptly, but Temari did not pay him attention. The shock made her nearly lose her chakra-control and she slid several feet along the wall. Sloshing water everywhere, she hastily climbed back as to not miss a bit of the conversation.

"What? Really?" Naruto didn't sound particularly disturbed. More like slightly grumpy.

"He is my brother. He's supposed to help in that kind of matter."

Temari stared straight ahead for a second, her eyes blank. Then she shook her head: she knew her family was a little dysfunctional and... okay, a lot fucked up, but that was pushing things a bit too far, even for Gaara.

Fortunately, Naruto's grumpy voice proved her right.

"Yeah, he's your brother. That means you'll give him ammunition for teasing for the rest of your lifetime if you ever mention needing help to fall asleep... While I'd never do that!"

Gaara snorted. "That's why I asked you for my first night of sleep. Hard for a guy who wears a frog shaped nightcap to make fun of you."

"Right! I –Hey!"

Temari did not stay around to hear the rest. Relief was making her legs weak and she swore to whatever deities interested in gardening and family life that she was done prying in her brother's thankfully embryonic love life.

She climbed back to her own balcony, unaware of the sandy eyeball floating a few feet from her.

Meanwhile, Gaara squeezed his hand shut, dispelling his third eye jutsu. He did not know why Temari sometimes felt the need to watch over him. It was useless because a) he did not need help to look after himself b) if he really wanted to be alone with Naruto he could. So, he found her prying slightly irritating and though he couldn't really say why, a good deal comforting at the same time.

He thought with a small pang of guilt that Temari had always had to be the responsible one, the one who looked after them until it became ingrained in her and that she might be worried, right now. He knew he ought to talk to her more often, but…

… She was his big sister. Talks with her had a habit of turning into Lectures of the embarrassing kind, complete with leaflets holding trauma inducing pictures.

A low rumble came beside his ear, and he looked up from his place on Naruto's chest to see his friend chuckling.

"What is it?"

"It's just..." Naruto raised his arms to put them behind his head, the movement making his orange shirt shift behind Gaara's head, tangling a few red locks in the process. "It's just that Kankurou and Shikamaru mentions aside, don't you think that it sounded just like our first time having sex as well?"

Gaara only smiled and closed his eyes, ready to resume their afternoon nap.

When Naruto left, he'd talk to Temari about them. She deserved to know.

And it might prevent her from drowning his cacti for good.