Disclaimer: "Naruto" is owned by Masshi Kishimoto
Author Notes: Here is chapter two, as promised. The edits on this were a little difficult for me, and it's a little slower chapter then all the other ones. But, hopefully it still proves enjoyable.
Once again, Thank you Starraz for your help. And thanks to all the people who took time to review and put me on story alert. Much appreciated. I look forward to hearing what you think of this chapter as well. Don't be afraid to be honest :)
~Path of Sand ~
A Kankuro story
Chapter Two: Child of Darkness
Kankuro spent the night at his uncle's house. Yashamaru said he wanted to keep an eye on his health. Kankuro knew that in reality, his every move was being watched. His father didn't trust him, that was to be expected.
Now, in the darkness of his uncle's small guest bedroom, he had a little bit of time to think things through and make a plan. It was difficult. Of the three siblings Temari was the strategist. She'd give them the plans and Gaara would listen, mentally turning the plan in his head, searching for errors. Kankuro? He just joyed in the battle, of fighting for his village. On the spot decisions and precision? Yes, But what was the point of making long terms plans if every second in a fight altered the outcome?
Now he was on his own. He needed to decide what to do next, and to do that, he needed to decide what exactly had happened in the first place.
He'd fought Sasori, and lost. All of Kankuro's puppet attacks were old news to the legendary puppeteer, child's play compared to his mind-blowing command of the art. Somehow. . . Instead of dying from Sasori's poison, Kankuro was sent back into the past. He didn't bother trying to deal with the unanswerable question; 'how'. It was simply a fact; but it was all but impossible wasn't it?
He didn't feel like he was trapped in any jutsu. On the other hand, he didn't feel particularly good either. If he concentrated hard enough he could feel his body fighting the strange poisonous substance that caused the wounded areas on his body to tingle slightly and feel uncomfortable. Yet it was a feeling that could easily be shoved aside and ignored.
He realized now how stupid it had been to try and go after two Akatsuki alone. That didn't mean he would have changed his decision to do so, it just meant it was a stupid idea. However, he hadn't had much choice in the matter.
He could still recall the guards on the tower walls, arguing with him rather they should shoot the missing nin, or their own Kazekage. Gaara would have been far gone by the time those idiots did something about it. As it was . . . Kankuro had no clue where he might be by now. The situation was looking bleaker and bleaker by the moment.
Unfortunately, it was far too late for regrets. No matter how much he wanted to change things, do something differently, give Gaara a better chance and stop that freaking clay jerk. . . But. . . What was done was done. . .
. . . Or. . . Was it?
Kankuro wasn't one to give much pull to deity or fate, but somehow, and perhaps for some reason. . . He was here. . .
There were many things he could do now that he was in the past. He had the power and knowledge to change things. A million different thoughts flew through his mind. Some of them small, yet insistent, others large and more pressing. He thought of Suna's sad history and wondered what he could change for the better. Could he warn his father of Orochimaru's betrayal and the attack on Konoha?
He frowned at the thought. Inwardly realizing that wasn't something he dared play with. If their father hadn't been killed, then Gaara would have never become Kazekage. Kankuro and his siblings would be nothing but weapons for the rest of their lives, and Gaara would forever remain. . .
Gaara's situation. . . might be worth changing.
Not that their relationship was bad at the moment. Indeed, it had gotten infinitely better since the chunin exams three years ago. Still. . . Kankuro had watched his brother everyday since then, and there was always pain there that wouldn't go away. The people accepted him as their Kazekage but, as shown by the shinobi on the wall, they still didn't completely trust him. The past was simply too hurtful to fully erase. If he could. . . Kankuro would have liked to stop whatever it was that had destroyed Gaara. But what had it been? Where had it started?
Kankuro's thoughts were interrupted by a quiet sound. He shut his eyes so as to listen better. He could hear it clearly now, footsteps. They were small, close together, and oddly familiar. It seemed that young Gaara couldn't sleep.
Those even quiet steps, the pacing. It was a common sound at home, though since becoming Kazkeage Gaara was often in his office at night now. Still. . . It seemed so much like his brother.
Everything else was so different. The way six year old Gaara smile, the little lights of joy that showed in his eyes when someone took kind notice to him. Even Kazekage Gaara had never found those things again; reserved and always somber.
Kankuro gritted his teeth.
The one time Gaara had smiled, a real heartfelt smile, was that evening on the balcony overlooking the village. There, Gaara had told his brother that he wanted to be trusted, wanted to prove himself to the people of Suna, to become dear to them. But now. . . In the future. He was gone. He would never have that chance.
Kankuro gasped, sitting up quickly in the darkness, breathing hard. He slid out of bed, holding his bandaged side. The images of his nightmare slowly faded, but left him with a feeling of fear and hollowness. It took him a while to sort out where he was and what had happened for real.
He was still in Yashamaru's house, he wasn't back home and Gaara wasn't dead. . .Not yet. Just a dream. Kankuro told himself, trying to shake the image of Gaara's broken face from his mind. They'll look for him. Temari will see to that. Surely this wasn't a genjutsu. You couldn't have nightmares within a nightmare right?
Slowly he walked across the dark floor and towards the kitchen. He didn't know the layout of his uncle's house well, having only stayed there a few times during his childhood.
Once in the kitchen he turned on the tap, searching for a cup in the darkness. He swore quietly as some of the items fell from the cupboard.
The light suddenly flipped on, making Kankuro turn sharply. "What. . ."
Gaara was standing in the doorway, watching Kankuro cautiously. He must have used his sand to reach the light switch because, for a short six year old, it was much too high to reach.
"I was getting a drink." Kankuro explained. "Do you know where the cups are?"
Gaara nodded, pointing.
Kankuro took a cup, turning back to the sink. "You thirsty?"
"No." Gaara replied, coming into the kitchen and climbing onto one of the tall stools near the counter.
"Is uncle Yashamaru asleep?" Kankuro asked, turning and leaning against the sink with his cup.
Gaara nodded slowly.
"I hope we didn't wake him up."
"You didn't," Gaara said.
Kankuro stared at him from over the rim of his cup. Taking in his little brother's tired looking face. Gaara was holding a worn, brown teddy bear under his arm. Something that might have been amusing to Kankuro had not the edges of his nightmare still been present in the back of his mind. He desperately needed something to distract himself.
"Where did the teddy come from?"
Gaara held it closer "My brother and sister gave him to me."
Kankuro frowned, he was trying to remember such an event.
"O-kay . .Hey, does it help you sleep?"
"I can't sleep" Gaara replied. "Otherwise the monster will get me. So I stay awake."
Kankuro frowned. He wasn't sure exactly why he felt compelled to ask his brother such stupid questions when he knew the answers to so many of them, granted the teddy bear bit was a surprise. Perhaps he asked simply because he had no other way to start. Or perhaps. . . Since Gaara was willing to talk at such a young age, he figured he could get answers to those questions he'd never been able to figure out.
"Yashamaru. . . He takes care of you right?"
Gaara nodded. "And I help him when he needs it," he looked down, "He helps keep the monster away too."
Kankuro frowned slightly. He couldn't believe that this little kid would kill their uncle. Something wasn't right. How did this trusting kid ever become the Gaara he grew up with?
"Hey, listen a sec okay?" Kankuro said, causing Gaara to look up.
"You know, I really like ya. You're a really nice kid to talk to. You shouldn't be so scared when talking to people. You just have to be nice to them and keep the sand from going crazy okay? Don't let things get to you and randomly attack people as you get older okay? I know you can do it. It takes a lot of control and stuff, but you can manage. Right?"
Gaara frowned at him in confusion, finally just shrugging in response. Kankuro sighed, hoping his words could reach the little kid's head. He put his cup in the sink, turning back to Gaara. "Want to come sit with me for a while? I don't really feel like sleeping."
Gaara's eyes brightened and he nodded, climbing off the chair and following Kankuro back into the bedroom where they both sat on the bed. Gaara sat cross legged at the foot and faced Kankuro who sat by the pillow.
"You can't sleep either?" Gaara asked, not quite as hesitant to talk as he had been earlier. He almost seemed excited at the idea that Kankuro couldn't sleep either.
"No. Bad dreams." Kankuro explained.
Gaara's eyes widened. "I have nightmares too. They're scary."
"I thought you didn't sleep."
"I don't have to sleep, they just come." Gaara said, rocking back and forth, holding his bare toes as he did so. He looked out the window where a sliver of moon was showing, the rest covered by dark clouds. "But not tonight." he said, turning back to Kankuro. "What did you dream?"
"W-well. . ." Kankuro stuttered, unused to such an inquisitive version of his little brother. "Some guys attacked my village and took someone important to me away," He finally said, not unaware of the irony of telling Gaara this.
Gaara frowned at him, looking somber. "Oh." he looked down at his feet, absently flexing his toes. "I see. That would be like someone hurting Yashamaru and I see it. I would be very sad."
Kankuro shook his head, he felt more confused then ever. He was getting a headache, "You wouldn't hurt him right Gaara?"
The child looked up, wide eyed and frightened. "Sometimes I do by accident because he gets in the way of my sand."
Kankuro nodded. He remembered Gaara's sand had attacked him as a child more then once. . . Heck, it had attacked him as a teenager multiple times too.
Was that what happened? Gaara lost control of his sand and killed Yashamaru? If his calculations were correct, that was to happen reasonably soon; within the next couple of days even. Though. . . He could be wrong. Kankuro recollection of the event was iffy, he just remembered a lot of crap happening all at once. Yet, Gaara had seemed pretty well controlled during the incident at the clinic. when Kankuro had backed away after foolishly trying to hit Gaara's hand, the sand had pulled back as Gaara did. He hadn't wanted to hurt anyone. The sand, as always, just reacted on it's own.
Kankuro knew that the sand protected Gaara of it's own will, taking very little chakra from Gaara himself, and attacking potential threats. Normally when Kankuro saw this, someone was truly trying to threaten his brother's existence. If in realty, the sand reacted to every simple touch. . . It was no wonder everyone was so afraid of him. Why as a child, Kankuro had been so frightened of his younger brother. If no one could even get close. . . protect him. Of course he came to depend on his sand instead.
Gaara was staring at him, frowning as if trying to read his thoughts.
"What's wrong?" Kankuro asked, trying to dispel the disturbing thought.
"You're looking at me funny." Gaara said.
Kankuro laughed, cutting it off quickly so as not to wake anyone up, or make Gaara angry.
Make Gaara Angry. . .
Almost like a dream he could see his twelve year old brother, closing a blood covered umbrella. "I didn't like the way he was looking at me. So I killed him."
It wasn't funny, he shouldn't laugh. Gaara really had killed many people for no valid reason; on a whim, out of bloodlust or annoyance. This was different though, It was a younger Gaara, innocent and never wanting to hurt anyone on purpose.
"What's wrong?" Gaara asked, sounding horribly concerned and cringing away like he might have done something wrong.
Kankuro looked at him. In all honesty, the little brat saying some of Gaara's old lines (but without the killing intent) was actually. . . Kind of cute.
"I'm sorry" Kankuro said, smiling. "It's just. . . Despite what I always thought, you're kind of cute as a kid."
Gaara's mouth opened in confusion.
"I guess that's just what happens when you finally grow up." Kankuro said quietly. He reached out and gave Gaara a short hug, feeling slightly awkward. He let go quickly.
Feeling tiny grits of sand on his night shirt, he brushed them away with his hands. "Gee Gaara, I feel sorry for whoever has to clean up this mess of yours."
Gaara frowned. A very deep frown. Kankuro froze. He was about to ask what the matter was - Besides the fact that he just hugged his brother for the very first time in either of their lives - then he felt the sand shift around him. Kankuro watched as the tiny grains of sand pulled away from his clothing. Gaara bit down on his lip, body tensing in concentration as each grain fell onto his skin one by one, disappearing there.
The kid didn't even blink until every last bit of desert was off Kankuro. When all the sand was gone, Gaara shut his eyes for a moment, finally taking a breath. He looked at Kankuro and smiled, breathing hard.
"It was that difficult?" Kankuro asked quietly, not masking his surprise.
Gaara's smile widened, "That's the first time I ever tried!"
Kankuro stared. He knew Gaara had put himself through much willpower and training to be able to force the sand to his will, to control it himself, with his own chakra rather then using the power of the demon. Not that Gaara had ever said anything about the difficulty of the task; but Kankuto had seen it on his brother's face, just as he had now. The turmoil and mental exaction to bring the sand into his complete control while, at the same time, constantly arguing with a monster.
Kankuro shut his eyes, remembering Gaara, standing on a floating disk of sand, pulling the substance from the very streets, every grain obeying to exactness. Creating a huge shield that protected the entire village from the explosion, not a grain of it falling onto Suna's head. The hundred of lives protected by the will of their Kazekage. . . Then the tragic fall. . .
Kankuro felt Gaara's finger on his face, and his eyes opened as Gaara pulled away. There was a damp, almost muddy spot on his fingertip. Kankuro wiped his eyes quickly. "Just in case I can't fix all this Gaara. In case it all still happens. . . I'll be there for ya. Okay?"
Gaara frowned at him He wiped his hand off on his trousers, averting his eyes. "But you don't even know me."
"No, I guess I don't. I never did. But that doesn't matter now."
"You mean. . . You're not afraid of me?"
"No. I used to be, a long time ago. But I'm not afraid of you anymore. I trust you. A lot. Someday everyone will."
Gaara stared at him for a moment, then abruptly jumped from the bed. "Okay." he said simply.
"Okay?" Kankuro whispered, watching Gaara walk to the door
The kid turned. "Ya, I said okay. Yashamaru says you're probably crazy. But it's okay if you are. I like you anyways." Then he spun on his heels and left.
Kankuro stared, then lay back on his bed with a growl. Kids. He really hated kids.
Next chapter: Chapter 3 – Demon of Sand
P.S. In case anyone is curious about my reference to Gaara's teddy bear; I have a short story depicting the event. It was written before this story was even thought of, so some of the details and timing doesn't match. All in all though, I think it turned out pretty well. So if you're in the mood for a sad/sweet/tragic sort of story, you can find 'I Want a Brother' on my stories list.