If you want to see me write about a certain character or character combination, tune in to the poll on my profile. If you want me to write about something specific or a character combination that isn't on my poll, my forum is available for just that purpose.

Here is my Christmas present to you.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.


It never snowed in Suna. That much Kankuro could be thankful for. He had been in a land where it snowed before, and he had hated it, so Kankuro was very glad that he lived in the dry, arid desert.

The three Sabaku siblings sat wedged close together on the low couch. The television set played a Christmas special Kankuro wasn't paying attention to in the background, and their finished supper lay cooling and forgotten on the far edge of the coffee table. They hadn't eaten much in the way of nutritious foods; Temari has supplied candied chestnuts for the occasion (Right out of her private stash, even, Kankuro thought sardonically), Kankuro had gone into town for Moose tracks ice cream, and Gaara had recently discovered a liking for almonds and dark chocolate. They had spent the better part of two hours cleaning out the half-gallon tub of ice cream between them, armed with three spoons and voracious appetites; since Gaara was in the middle, the tub had mostly sat on his lap throughout.

It was their first real Christmas as a family. Oddly, that made Kankuro more nervous than anything else, and it made him wonder why on earth they had never done this before, until he remembered the small issue of "psychotic baby brother." When Temari and Kankuro had, two months ago, decided that they were going to celebrate Christmas (after due consideration taking into account the disaster at Halloween concerning Kankuro getting raving drunk), they had been certain that their idea would be shot down by Gaara. But instead, all he did was nod, say that that sounded like a good idea, and blandly ask if they needed any help with the decorations. Brother and sister had gone away from that meeting decidedly disturbed.

Gaara had been behaving so differently lately. He was still quiet, broody and somewhat manic-depressive, but he was so much more docile than usual. That feeling of being threatened that Kankuro always got when around Gaara was gone. Kankuro wanted to believe that it would last, but deep down he was getting a strong suspicion that before long Gaara would go back to his normal, psychotic self. But for now, Kankuro wanted to savor every last drop of "family togetherness" before the three returned to their typical awkwardness around each other.

As Kankuro reached for the gifts to hand them off, Temari glared at him over Gaara's head. He grinned right back; earlier in the day, Kankuro had stolen Temari's bright red Santa hat (he was the only person in the family who got to wear headgear), and even though she couldn't prove it, she know who had taken it. After all, why would Gaara even want a Santa hat?

When Kankuro handed his gift to Gaara, he muttered, "Open this one last." For someone who had no hair on his eyebrows, Gaara pulled off the eyebrow raise really well.

Temari opened her presents first. She got a packet of seeds from Gaara (Temari absolutely loved botany) and a writing set from Kankuro, who had noticed that she was beginning to run low on writing materials and scrolls again.

Then Kankuro went. First was Temari's gift. He tore through wrappings and tissue paper, letting it float to the floor with all the rest, to come up with a can of prank worms (Temari giggled evilly in the background). Kankuro scowled; gag gifts were always rotten. Gaara's was better; he had gotten him a book extensively covering the history of puppetry in Suna, stretching all the way back to Monzaemon Chikamatsu and Kishi Haruko, a woman who was the very first to employ puppets in battle, some four hundred years ago.

"Gosh, Kankuro, I didn't know you cold read," Temari teased after watching him dive into it.

"Sis," Kankuro growled over the top of the book, "holiday cheer and joy for all are going to fly out the window if you don't quick with the cracks." On their worst of days, Kankuro knew that he and Temari made Gaara look positively normal by comparison.

Temari pulled an impish smile, primly smoothing the pale blue tissue paper resting on her knees. "Alright, alright. Keep your shirt on. Gaara, why don't you open your presents now?"

The way Gaara opened his gifts laid somewhere between his two older siblings. He did not rip the paper aside with reckless abandon the way Kankuro did, nor did he articulately split the paper as not to raise tears the way Temari did. He unwrapped presents quickly and quietly, with consideration for plastic bows and fabric ribbons.

Temari's gift was an art set: a box of charcoal pencils, a box of pastels of colors rarely seen in the desert (usually pastels in Suna ranged only through the primary colors; "You have no idea how much those cost," Temari commented smugly), and a sketchbook of thick, stiff paper.

A few years ago, Kankuro and Temari had discovered their youngest sibling on the floor drawing on a scrap of scroll parchment with a pen he'd lifted from Temari's room. Soon after, they came to the realization that their brother had a talent for drawing (Kankuro still couldn't get over the fact that the psychopathic killer of the family could draw, and that he drew about things other than blood and gore). Since the Kazekage certainly wouldn't have encouraged such a hobby, especially not in Gaara, he drew on scraps of paper and eventually graduated from an ink pen to a charcoal pencil and three pastels in bright shades of red, blue and yellow. He drew many things, such as landscapes, city scenes, plant life and animals, but never people.

Gaara murmured stunned thanks and turned his attentions to Kankuro's gift after carefully placing the art set on a clear area of the coffee table.

Almost nervously, Gaara undid the glittery red ribbon (Temari had helped Kankuro with the wrapping job), and opened the box.

Kankuro held his breath as Gaara lifted the object out of the box, his eyes widening with each passing second. It was a worn old teddy bear.

Temari gaped down at it, before mouthing, I told you not to get him that!

Kankuro ignored her. "You know what that is, don't you Gaara?"

About a month ago, he and Temari had been going through their late father's things in the attic.

Temari drew a picture in a frame out of one of the cardboard boxes and blew hard to wipe away all the dust. It was their mother. The picture was identical to the one Yashamaru had kept. "I wonder how long Okaasan had to pose for this picture. She never smiled like this in real life," Temari muttered.

Kankuro nodded absently. It wasn't like he'd ever known their mother, so he'd take her word for it. He continued to dig through papers in a large box. Then he felt his face change.

Temari stiffened and frowned at him. "What is it, Kankuro?"

"Look." Kankuro slowly lifted an old teddy bear out of the box. One of its eyes was hanging on by a thread.

Temari's face took on a slightly incredulous mien. "Oh my God," she said quietly. "That Gaara's."

"Yeah." Kankuro sat it in his lap and stared grimly down at the old toy. "It's Gaara's old teddy alright." He had a few less than pleasant memories, of Gaara clutching that bear with a hopeless look on his face. At one point it had been his only friend. He'd always figured that Gaara had gotten rid of it, because he hadn't seen it… he hadn't seen it since that night.

"Temari, why did Dad have this with his stuff? He wasn't exactly—" Kankuro shuddered at the word "—sentimental."

Temari shrugged. "Dunno. He didn't particularly like any of us, I think—"

"You were his favorite," Kankuro said pointedly.

Temari ignored him. "So it was surprising to find anything non-work-related in his stuff at all."

Kankuro frowned and stared speculatively down at the bear.

He had stitched the glass eye back in and repaired the tear on the left ear (yes, Kankuro could sew, and no, he did not think it threatened his masculinity) and tied a wide white satin ribbon around the neck.

Gaara just stared dumbfounded at it, his mouth moving but no sound coming out. He looked like he'd just been sucker punched.

It then hit Kankuro what a stupid gift that was for Gaara. He'd be thirteen in less than a month, and the last time Kankuro checked, adolescent boys did not play with teddy bears. Also, that bear was a relic of a past that none of the siblings cared to remember. It was so stupid.

"Kankuro." Gaara's voice was barely audible, and it struck Kankuro how much smaller Gaara was than him and Temari. Small and frail, ruthless but fragile. "Thank you."

Kankuro had put up with a lot of grief from his brother over the years. But somehow, the expression on Gaara's face as he hugged the old familiar bear to his chest and turned his attention to the TV made it all worthwhile.


Merry Christmas!