Unsatisfactory Familial Relations

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Note: I'm not quite sure when during the Chuunin Exams as Sasuke this could possibly take place during as Sasuke is unconscious or off in the mountains for most of that time, but oh well.

Sasuke raced into a clearing in the forest and looked around. No sign of any stalkers. "Finally got away from Ino and Sakura," he sighed. "As I've barely seen Ino lately and Sakura's been making an honest effort to be less clingy, I'd almost forgotten how obnoxious they are about me when they're together…"

"Fangirls like that give Kunoichi a bad name."

Sasuke spun around to see Temari grimacing a few feet away from him. He snorted. "You're telling me. I know you, don't I? You're Gaara's sister."

Temari winced. "Technically, yes, but people generally don't talk about it," she told him.

"Why not?" Sasuke wanted to know. "And what are you doing here anyway?"

"Because in case you haven't noticed, Gaara is a bit of a homicidal maniac," Temari explained, rolling her eyes. "And I wanted to get a chance to train without risking getting killed for annoying him."

"You have my sympathies," Sasuke said sincerely.

"Really?" Temari couldn't hide her surprise. "I'll be the first to admit that I really don't know you well enough to be certain, but you don't seem the empathetic kind."

"I'm not, really," Sasuke confirmed, "and I would be lying if I said I've never wanted to kill my teammates for being overly annoying."

"Then why are you sympathizing with me?" Temari challenged.

"I also have a homicidal maniac brother who I generally like to pretend that I'm not related to and who could suddenly decide to show up and kill me at any time," Sasuke revealed.

Temari blinked. "Really? Who would have thought we'd have that much in common?"

"The life of a ninja tends to both attract and create homicidal maniacs, you know," Sasuke said sagely.

Temari cocked her head to the side. "I think I've heard about your brother," she said thoughtfully. "He wiped out your entire family, hospitalized you, and then disappeared, didn't he?"

Now it was Sasuke's turn to be surprised. "You've heard about that?"

Temari looked a little affronted. "Of course I did; the loss of the Uchiha clan and the Sharingan in particular was kind of a big deal, was it not?"

"I guess so," Sasuke agreed. "But despite the fact that I couldn't attend the Academy for weeks afterwards without my classmates gossiping about it whenever they saw me, most of my fellow Genin seem to have never heard about it and I know my teammates haven't."

"Children can be so thoughtlessly cruel," Temari noted softly. "That's half of the reason Kankuro hates them, after all. And I may not be the best judge of what's common knowledge as my father is the Kazekage and I heard about it from him."

"So what did he have to say about it?" Sasuke asked, curious despite himself at how other nations had seen it. The leader of his own had stopped by to see him once afterward but hadn't had much to say besides giving his condolences and calling it a terrible tragedy, like he didn't already know that.

"That no matter how much of a super-genius-prodigy your brother was, he was still only thirteen so the fact that he could kill everyone and get away with it points to either a political conspiracy or a catastrophic security failure," Temari answered promptly.

"A-A political conspiracy?" Sasuke sputtered. "Why would Konoha as a whole have anything to do with my clan's death?"

Temari shrugged. "Damned if I know; I have my hands full keeping up-to-date with just Suna politics. Of course, seeing as how Konoha is the 'nice' Village and considering my father's recent actions, I think it's safe to say that he believes it to be the latter. Then again, given that Konoha cannot possibly be as saintly as they like to pretend to be and still be a successful ninja village and no other village really bothers to hide any of their various indiscretions, Konoha could very well go around kicking orphaned puppies into the river and watching them drown."

"I can verify that I have never seen such an event, although I am willing to concede that if they are doing a decent job of hiding it you could very well be right," Sasuke said solemnly. "And what do you mean by 'recent actions'?"

"My father won't be here until the Third Task, naturally, but he intends to bring more security than he'd have had he trusted Konoha to be able to protect him," Temari covered smoothly.

Sasuke considered her statement and decided he really didn't care much one way or another if she was hiding something as it really didn't have anything to do with him or his vengeance. "So how likely would you say your brother is to snap and try to kill you?"

"Trust me: if he tries, he'll succeed. As to how often, it depends on the day, really," Temari replied. "He's more likely to go after Kankuro, I'd say, because he never knows when to shut up."

"So it's just a guessing game, then?" Sasuke asked.

"Partly," Temari agreed. "I mean, there are some indicators we know to watch out for. For instance, if Gaara starts talking about his so-called 'mother' or is in the process of killing someone, don't say anything. If blood has been spilled, ducking and running for cover is a pretty sound plan. Kankuro and I never really had much to do with Gaara when we were younger, but we've gotten pretty good at spending time with him and staying alive. You?"

"I haven't actually seen That Man since-" Sasuke began.

" 'That Man'?" Temari interrupted. "You mean your brother?"

"Yes," Sasuke admitted. "But I'm not willing to admit that we're related, remember?"

"You could always call him by his name," Temari suggested. "It was…Itachi, right?"

"I'm happy calling him 'That Man', thanks," Sasuke said firmly. "Everyone either knows who I'm talking about or doesn't, regardless of what I call him."

"Have it your way, then," Temari told him. "And please, continue."

"I haven't seen That Man since the Massacre," Sasuke did, indeed, continue. "He told me I was too weak to kill so he wasn't even going to bother."

"Well, that's good, right?" Temari asked, trying to be positive. "At least you're still alive."

"That would be a good thing," Sasuke allowed. "Except that he killed children younger than me and several of our older relatives who he also saw fit to kill were bedridden. I was not the most pathetic member of my family, which is what he'd have me believe. It's not enough he had to destroy everything, he had to actively work to give me a complex, too?"

"That would suck, then," Temari acknowledged. "But would you rather be dead?"

"Sometimes," Sasuke admitted quietly. He cleared his throat. "He said that if I wanted to kill him, I'd have to track him down myself. So I guess I'm not really in any immediate danger from him right now as he seems to want an actual fight when I do confront him, but I'll go after him soon enough and could very well end up dead. Do you hate him?"

Temari blinked at the sudden subject change. "Your brother? I've never even met him and I have a policy of not hating people that I've never met or who have never screwed me over."

Sasuke shook his head impatiently. "Not my brother. Yours."

"Gaara?" Temari asked rhetorically, because he really was the more obvious candidate for her hatred than her other little brother. "I don't know. He's never really felt like my brother and he scares the living daylights out of me, but…I really don't' know. He goes around killing anyone who gets in his way, but nothing to the extent of massacring anyone who wasn't actively attacking him first."

"You're lucky," Sasuke said bluntly.

"I've never really considered myself such, but I suppose I can see why you'd think so," Temari said diplomatically.

"What about your other team member?" Sasuke inquired. "You said his name was Kankuro, right?"

Temari laughed. "You've seen him, right? Dressed like a cat, wears more make-up than your average fangirl, and has a slightly disturbing preoccupation with puppets?"

"Ah," Sasuke realized. "For my part, I have a pink fangirl and an orange idiot on my team. She believed I would go from telling her she was annoying and needed to go away one minute to confessing that I had always wanted to kiss her 'cute forehead' the next and then moped for days because I found her especially annoying after she expected some romantic attention from me and consequentially told her to go away more than usual."

" 'Kiss her cute forehead'?" Temari repeated, making a face. "Who even says things like that?"

Sasuke rolled his eyes in agreement. "The orange idiot. He was impersonating me at the time and has a thing for her. Of course, given that she apparently told 'me' that she was jealous of Naruto for not having any parents because hers annoyed her, perhaps it was for the best that I only found out about it when she apologized later. I honestly don't know how I would have reacted to her saying that, but I know it wouldn't have been pretty."

"People who have never lost a parent can never hope to understand what it's like for someone who has," Temari remarked.

"Your mother?" Sasuke asked quietly.

Temari nodded. "She…died in childbirth."

"I'm sorry," Sasuke told her genuinely.

"Thank you," Temari said graciously. "So what were you saying about your team?"

"Oh, right. So aside from getting me into that mess, the orange idiot regularly does such stupid th ins as attacking infamous missing-nin head-on to recover a goddamn headband, of all things, when he couldn't even access his chakra properly."

"Wow. I don't even know what to say," Temari confessed.

"No one ever does," Sasuke informed her.

"I think I can safely say that we are the least disturbed members of our respective teams, however," Temari declared.

"And THAT is a very scary thought," Sasuke said wryly.

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