There was a maddening silence that flowed from the hallway; her own heart monitor seemed to blare loudly in her ear even though she knew it was only a soft beep. She was certain that half the hospital ward had heard his shouting. Kankuro always did have trouble thinking when he was sleep and food deprived. All of the efforts to keep those walls up fell down around him, and he couldn't hide anymore from his sister, himself, and unknowingly, Tenten.

"Temari, he is still out there," it wasn't a growl this time like it normally would have been. It was a confession founded in defeat. He needed to protect her, but couldn't, didn't.

"Gaara sent Baki and a specialized team to track him down. They will find him, Kankuro," her voice turned to placate the pain-stricken man. "Baki was nearly as pissed about this as Gaara was. Tenten and Matsuri were the closest things to daughters that man has ever had besides me. He is not going to rest until that man pays for what he did." Tenten imagined that Kankuro nodded his head as she couldn't see it. Temari brightened up once more, "How bout I take your place for a while, you go home and eat some non-hospital DFAC food, take a shower and a nap and come back tomorrow morning. Get going before I have to kick your ass and make you." Temari had a way of getting her brother to comply, against his wishes to stay.

"Thanks Temari," he retracted his chakra string from her foot from outside in the hall and made his way out of the building.

Temari entered her room as Tenten sat up cautiously. She kept the lights off and sat on the edge of the bed. "Do I need to get the nurse?" she asked quietly, trying to politely offer some assistance to the injured kunoichi.

"Naw," Tenten's scratchy throat barely let her speak. She shifted, knowing that look that Temari got when she didn't like a situation. Temari was in rare mother-hen protection mode. "How long was I out?" she noted she was starting to get sick of asking that question.

"Few days," Temari stated passively, almost apologetically.

"Matsuri? Shikamaru?" she asked in hopes that they didn't have an extended hospital stay like she did.

"Shikamaru is back in Konoha, safe and sound." Tenten picked up just the slightest bit of disappointment in her voice, but it faded quickly, "Gaara won't let Matsuri out of his sight. She says it's driving her nuts, but we all know she secretly likes it." She could make out the white teeth of the blonde's smile in the dark, which caused a smile to form on her face as well.

"Did we get the bad guy?" she had to ask this or it might make Temari think that she had overheard her conversation with her brother in the hallway.

"Not yet," she shifted on the bed beside her, playing with a loose string on the frayed hospital blanket. "Gaara is afraid that he might come back and finish the job. He has guards posted at every entrance of the hospital. Apparently you really pissed that guy off." Tenten was given a swinging door and she knew she could feign ignorance if need be.

"Who'd I piss of this time?" Tenten coughed just a bit as Temari crossed the room to get her a much needed glass of water.

"A bastard from Jimen country, someone who wanted to use you all as leverage to get his way. He needed some hostages and took you three by surprise right outside of Suna. You were at the wrong place at that wrong time." She paused for a moment to let her words sink in.

"Do me a favor and don't tell my master, he will have me doing sprints from Suna to Konoha if he knew I was the last one to heal from all of this." Tenten moved her free hand upwards to gently feel the bandage covering over the side of her head. "Wait," Tenten reasoned from the information that she was given, "why would he come back and finish the job if he didn't have a reason to take me other than at random? Wouldn't taking someone else be easier than taking someone who was able to get away if all he only took people just for the sake of needing a hostage?" Tenten began to get dizzy from all of the pain and thinking. She closed her eyes tightly and let out a forcible grunt in anguish.

"Easy there, girl," Temari took the glass of water from her and helped guide her head back onto her pillow. "I think that is enough thinking for today. I don't want you injuring what little brains the man left in your skull," she added slyly to which Tenten gave a dry "ha, ha" to the wind kunoichi, and fell back asleep before her body could even register that it needed the rest.

He was watching her with those penetrating eyes again, she could tell. Standing at full shinobi attention while talking and looking only at the Kazekage became a little harder under Kankuro's constant vigilant stares. Those golden brown eyes were locked on her in a way that made her want to squirm under his scrutiny, but she was able to give the Kazekage her full report after a few weeks of training without stuttering, hesitating or having the Kazekage repeat any of his questions. Training under Maito Gai meant she could suffer through the most odd, if not all out embarrassing situations, so a little pressure to perform was nothing new to her. She just didn't know why his attention was so wholly focused on her most of the time. Didn't he get by now that intimidating her wasn't going to work?

But that was a distant dream, no memory, she realized. All of her memories and recollections had all amounted to one thing, Kankuro either hated her or...

She couldn't rely on her memories anymore for accurate information. They seemed to only be feeding her images of Kankuro giving off that weird vibe and staring her down like prey before the hunter makes his move, or like some vile thing he wanted to destroy. That's when she decided to go to the source of the problem and find out for herself what was really going on.

And she was going to ask Kankuro what the hell was going on and make him answer all of her questions whether he wanted to or not. Temari had taken it upon herself to go find the nurse so it wasn't hard to slip passed the guards. She found her pack before she left and henged into a nurse so that she wouldn't get stopped on her way out of the building. It wasn't long before she was at the Sand sibling's door, slipping a spare key in the lock and opening it up to a virtually empty house. The clicking door behind her echoed against the imported wooden floor boards and a distant rush of a shower head could be heard in a nearby bathroom.

"Kankuro!" she called out to the man in question, recognizing his chakra signature from behind the door, "I need to speak with you! Hurry up!"

She could have swore that it sounded like he had nearly slipped and caught himself in the shower, and she mentally reprimanded herself for not waiting until he had at least finished getting out of the bathroom before confronting him.

"Tenten?" the awe struck voice was filled with alarm and disbelief from behind the door, "What are you doing here? You need to be in bed resting! Where is Temari, she was supposed to be watching you! Why aren't you at the hospital-"

"Would you shut and listen to me!" she hadn't meant to lose her balance and ended up falling into the wall. The searing pain in her skull would not be deterred and threatened to knock her back out again if she didn't stop and take it easy.

He must have heard her clumsy landing, because when she opened her eyes, he was scowling at her and trying to get her up by her shoulders.

He was muttering obscenities, more crap about her condition being unstable and needing rest if she were to ever get better. And she had to get better, he spat out in a near desperate plea, because.

She could barely keep her eyes open, from the pain that threatened to split her skull to the unwavering sleepiness that clouded her thoughts; she started to become limp in Kankuro's arms.

"NO!" he shouted. He held her in his arms, brushing the bangs out of her face and looking upon her injury with a sense of helplessness that seemed like it was breaking him. "You have to stay awake," he was whispering, pleading again as her eyes fluttered closed. Then a sudden surge of fear and alarm surged through him and he set her down carefully on some surface that was soft and warm before turning and facing their attacker. Their attacker who had come back to finish the job he started.

"You did this to her!" Kankuro snarled to the man in the doorway. Tenten realized that Kankuro had moved her to a room of sorts and had placed her on a bed. When she breathed deeply into the pillow she recognized the earthy masculine scent as Kankuro's. He could have placed her on the couch, or on the floor, the guest bedroom or even in Gaara's or Temari's room. It wasn't like he had the excuse of his puppets were here, so that is why he chose this place in an effort to grab weapons right before he threw down with this shinobi. All of his weapons and puppets were downstairs.

No, he placed her on his bed because he wanted to.

The scuffle lasted only a few short seconds. Kankuro had taken him up by his front shirt and promised him horrible torture because Gaara had made him promise first not to kill the bastard. Apparently Gaara wanted to beat the crap out him too for the things he did to Matsuri and was unwilling to be reasonable about being the only one to get a decent ass-kicking in before Gaara tore him apart preceding his imminent death.

Kankuro had him trapped away in one of his puppets in no time, and then turned another critical eye to the kunoichi on his bed.

"That guy really wanted me dead," Tenten mused with sigh. "Why?"

Kankuro looked as if he didn't know the answer, or as if he didn't want to answer.

"That's not important now," he tried to pacify as he hovered above her, fussing over her head wound. "What's important is that you get better so that you can continue to kick ass on the battlefield." He smiled, letting the emotion come through in his eyes. The dark gold sparkled down at her, and she drank in the warmth of his hand on her forehead.

"You're warm," she grabbed at his wrist and pulled it towards her, "Come warm me up."

"Tenten, we need to get you back to the hospital," he protested lightly but crawled into bed behind her nonetheless.

The boyish look of uncertainty was priceless on the always gruff shinobi as he wrapped his thick arms around her.

"I'm good, doctors say I'm fine. I just need some rest," and that was the last sentence that was spoken as Kankuro pressed his warm body against hers and she fell into a blissful slumber. She knew he had trouble expressing himself with words, and that a full out confession of those disturbing thoughts might just be the end of him. In time, though, he might be able to say what he had been saying all along with those piercing eyes of his, because she knew now that he was trying to tell her something with every look he had given her since she found out that day that he really did eat sushi with wasabi sauce. He might not have recognized the feelings himself right away, but somehow that didn't matter now as he nuzzled closer to her and pressed tender kisses on the side of her face and forehead. What mattered was that they were in each other's arms, and no one was going to be able to keep them apart.

A/N: Thank you for all of your love and support! Thank you for all of the reviews! More love to Kankuro and Tenten!

I wanted to keep Kankuro in a raw, almost mean (but not completely malicious) state. I wanted to stay away from the playful, playboy type that I see a lot of other writers portray him as. I hope this fic met everyone's expectations and kept him in character.

Next one is a ShikaXTen for the loverly Morphy-chan….after that, probably a Tokuma and Tenten, just for the hell of it. (Anything but Neji, seriously.)