The sun was setting slowly on the horizon, turning the sky a bloody shade of red. A shadow had been cast over the buildings of Suna, seemingly vacant, with no sign of movement anywhere. No one walked the streets, choosing to stay out of the rough evening conditions. The only exception sat quietly on the roof of the Kazekage's mansion. Gaara gazed down at the village, barely flinching as the wind picked up, swirling the coarse desert sand around him. It had been a long day, and the young Kazekage had taken the opportunity to get away from the multitude of people that usually came to see him, and just have some time to himself. Even against the wind, he could still hear footsteps in his office, where he could tell that his brother had now taken refuge. It was at time like this that Gaara had learned to appreciate them the most. Although it was not really their place to do so, both Kankuro and Temari often took over some of the duties that Gaara had to perform as Kazekage, allowing him a break from the busy routine. However, they still had their own duties to perform, as shinobi of the sand, and there had been many times when Gaara had begun to miss their now familiar presence around him.
Kankuro walked over to the large window in the office, glancing out at the empty streets. Temari had just left to close the office for the night, but Gaara had yet to return. Kankuro smiled sadly to himself, shaking his head. Three years ago, he wouldn't have even given it a second thought that Gaara wasn't in. If anything, he would have been glad at his absence, for it was the only time that could have relaxed, rather than always having to watch his back. Back then, he had been little short of terrified of his younger brother, and even the idea of having to be in the same room as him had bothered him. But now, things were different. Kankuro wasn't quite sure when, or even how, but Gaara had changed. As time went on, he had stopped looking at Gaara as an enemy, even a threat, and was now able to see him for what he was, his little brother. Turning back into the room, he sat down in the chair nearest to him, waiting for Temari to return. Even though he now trusted his brother, he couldn't help but wonder where he went, sometimes for hours on end. It had taken Kankuro a while to realise that at some point, he has actually started worrying about his younger brother. He knew that Gaara could take care of himself, but still couldn't help worrying if it seemed that he had been gone for too long.
Looking over at the door as Temari walked in, Kankuro knew that she was feeling the same thing. Following his path, Temari went and stood by the window, leaning lightly against the frame. It had now been several hours since Gaara had left, and although he had nothing left to do this evening, she was still concerned of his whereabouts. Kankuro leant further back into the chair, sinking lower as he did. The two of them had taken to doing this routine every evening, waiting for the young Kazekage's return. It wasn't surprising really, not when they thought about it. Kankuro knew that Gaara hated the extra attention, and that it was probably the reason that he now stayed out even later. But ever since the Akatsuki raid, they couldn't help but worrying him. Kankuro had hated the feeling of uselessness that he had felt, knowing that there had been absolutely nothing that he could do. Even when he had tried to help, he had failed, and nearly got himself killed in the process. And they had come so close to losing him. If it hadn't been for elder Chiyo… Kankuro didn't even want to think about the other option. For a few hours, they had truly lost him. By all means, Gaara shouldn't even be alive. But he was, and both Temari and Kankuro had sworn that they would never let anything like that happen again.
Temari stood silently, gazing at the clock on the wall. If Gaara didn't come back soon, they would go looking for him. She knew that they were being overprotective, but couldn't shake the feeling that something bad could happen if they weren't. It wasn't as if Gaara helped the matter. Temari had often requested of him that he at least tell them where he was going to be, but he never did. It wasn't really surprising, and she had never really thought that he would agree to it. Even after all this time, Gaara liked to have his privacy, and would still spend a lot of his free time off by himself. But he did try. He would often make sure that he spent some of his time with one or both of them, but whether that was out of his own will, or because he could see that it pleased them, she was not sure. But either way, she way glad to be able to have that time with him. They had never before acted as if they were family, but it was finally beginning to show. But as much as they might try, she knew that they could never be the same as other families. You could see such families out together in the streets, just enjoying spending time with each other, and simply being there together. That sort of bond took a lifetime to create, and although the three of them had learned to care for one another, they could never duplicate the kind of relationship that came from always having someone there for you.
Temari glanced over at the picture on the wall, smiling as she saw it. Catching Kankuro's eye, she nodded over to it, earning a small smile from him. The picture had only been sent to them a few days ago, and she had not expected to see it up so soon, if at all. The picture had been taken when they had last visited Konoha, and showed the three of them sat together, Ichiraku Ramen behind them. They had made Gaara sit in the middle, and had both sat with their arms draped over his shoulders, grins on their faces. Although Gaara looked slightly uncomfortable, probably from the close contact, he had also managed to sit there, a rare smile gracing his features. Kankuro sat looking up at the picture. 'That was a good day' he said quietly, still smiling at the thought.
'Did we actually do anything that day?' asked Temari, who had moved to have a better look at the photo. 'It felt like we just wasted time wondering around the whole time.'
'Be fair, it was a day off. And why not? I mean, other than missions, it's not like we get out of Suna very often. And its not a bad place really, even if some of the people are a bit weird…'
'A bit weird? Isn't that being a bit too kind to them. I think some of them are more than a bit weird.'
'True.' Chuckling at the memory of Gaara's reaction when Lee had tried to go over and hug him. Even though Gaara was now on good terms with the young shinobi, he still preferred to keep his distance. He had looked as if he wanted to run as fast as possible in the opposite direction when Lee had got too close.
'It was nice though' Temari continued, leaning against the magnificent desk, which was currently cluttered with paperwork. 'For all of us to just be able to go out like that.' She hesitated for a second, before adding quietly, 'to be able to spend time together.'
Kankuro looked over in surprise, before nodding his head, in silent agreement. He knew what she meant, even if it wasn't what he had expected her to say. For that one day, they were able to go out, and just act like normal people. No strict meetings, or a proper way in which to behave. But just a day to go out and relax. And best of all, they had been able to spend it together. It seemed just typical to Kankuro, that as soon as they all start to get along, and want to spend their time together, they have to do just the opposite. Ever since Gaara had become Kazekage, they had all had less and less time, to just be themselves. But that was just how it had to be. There was no point questioning it, or even disagreeing with it. Their duty was to the village first, and not to each other. But still…
Kankuro got up and went back to the window. The sun had now set, and the village was shrouded in darkness, the wind howling mournfully through the buildings. Signalling to Temari, he got up, walking to the door and out of the room, with her following closely behind. They headed up the stairs, opening the door that took them out onto the roof, exposing them to the elements. Stepping out into the wind, he spotted Gaara over by the edge of the roof, leaning against the railing that circled the top of the building. The two of them walked over, joining him in silence, standing either side of him, and staring out over the village. None of them spoke, but there was no need to. The mere presence of the others was enough to make them each feel at peace. It was all they needed, just being together. To know that, if they even needed to, they could rely on each other. Sure, they weren't a perfect family, but when it came down to it, did they really need to be?