Kankuro looks a lot like his father.

When he and Temari joined a genin team with Gaara, she rightly insisted he find some way to cover this up. "It's too dangerous," she said. "The monster hates our father. He'll kill you."

This was the week after Gaara tried to kill their father for the first time.

They had always called him 'the monster' in private, but that was the first time Kankuro wondered if it was the right title for him.

After all, monsters don't attack other monsters, do they?

And monsters don't look at the cat-hood you used to cover your brown hair, because it's exactly like your father's - stupid, but the first thing you could find - and the kabuki paint on your face, to hide the fact that it looks like your father's and just... widen their eyes, and stare at you like a little brother would.

Kankuro couldn't tell whether Gaara was shocked or amused or something else altogether. But he had looked a lot like a child, and less like a monster.

They always called him Gaara after that. Kankuro suggested it. "Just in case we slip up," he said to Temari. "He'd kill us for it."

Privately, he started referring to their father as 'the monster' in his head instead.

Kankuro looks a lot like his father.

Gaara saw him without his kabuki paints once, a month before those chuunin exams. This was the week after Gaara tried to kill their father for the eleventh time.

Clearly, Gaara was eager to make attempt number twelve.

"No!" he yelled blindly, as the sand huntedhim, circling around him playfully and cutting off his escape routes. He wanted Temari. Not because he thought she could stop him, but just so he wouldn't die alone. "Gaara - it's Kankuro! Please!"

And, to his amazement, the sand stopped. Maybe Gaara recognised his voice - maybe their father never begged - maybe he was just surprised. But something made him stop. The sand still swirled around his feet, discontented and eager.

But Gaara had stopped.

He looked at Kankuro curiously. "You look like our father."

"Yes," he said. What else could he say?


Kankuro blinked. Why, indeed.

"...Because I got unlucky."

Gaara looked at him for a few moments longer. His expression held no curiosity this time. It was just blank.

But the sand returned to Gaara, and he left.

Kankuro made sure Gaara never saw him without those paints again.

Gaara remembered, all the same. When they went to Konoha for those chuunin exams, Gaara threatened to kill him at least once a day. Temari had never been more scared for him. Hell, Kankuro had never been more scared for himself.

He was no fool. Gaara didn't care about making chuunin, or attacking Konoha, or the competition, or orders. There was really nothing stopping him.

But he never did kill him.

Maybe, he thought. Maybe...

He didn't say anything, not even to Temari. But he hoped Gaara's thirteenth attempt at killing their father was successful.

Kankuro looks a lot like his father.

Gaara's the Kazekage now. He's forgiven them for the past, though Kankuro doesn't know how, and they've forgiven him too, but he didn't find that as hard as he expected.

He's been trusting Gaara with his life since the day he first met him. Now, though, he trusts Gaara not to kill him. It makes a hell of a difference. He knows he could do away with his odd getup, even if he has become rather fond of it over the years - nobody takes him seriously as a shinobi, but sometimes, it's nice to be taken seriously.

Every time he thinks this, Kankuro looks in the mirror, and he sees their father looking back.

And he picks up the kabuki paint from the shelf, and hides his face.

And he picks up the hood from where he left it the night before, and covers his hair.

Gaara wouldn't kill him just because he's unfortunate enough to look like their father. He wouldn't even hate him because he's unfortunate enough to look like their faither.

But Kankuro is his big brother now, and it's his job to protect him. He can't take Gaara's memories of their father away. What he can do, though, is hide the only thing of that monster they have left.

And if he's honest with himself - Kankuro is trying to forget that he looks like the monster, too.

A/N: Personal theory ahoy! :) This can be considered a tie-in to #6 of the Gaara & Kankuro oneshot in "The Two of Us". Comments loved!