Author's Note: Ariel D's version of Yondaime Kazekage, Hirohiko, is used with permission. I also do not own the song Karura sings. It is a real song.

Evening Rituals

Hirohiko didn't know where Karura learned the songs she used as lullabies for the children. He just knew he liked them. After he said good night to Temari and Kankuro in the nursery, he couldn't help lingering in the doorway, watching and listening.

Karura sat on the edge of the bed Temari and Kankuro shared, singing by the glow of their children's night light. She took turns stroking Temari's head and Kankuro's arm. Kankuro didn't like having his head touched the way Temari did.

"Every time…the rain comes down," Karura sang softly. "I close my eyes…and listen."

Their children were instantly rapt. Kankuro unconsciously hugged his black stuffed cat closer to his chest, wide-eyed. Temari turned onto her side slightly and closed her eyes, one hand curled against her mouth.

Karura continued singing in that special whisper she had. Hirohiko felt his own eyelids growing heavy at the sound of his wife's soothing voice. "I can hear the lonesome sound, of the sky, as it cries. Listen to the rain. Here it comes again. Hear it in the rain…"

Kankuro shifted, blinking sleepily, and leaned into his mother's touch on his arm.

"I feel the touch…of tears that fall…" Karura shook her head gently. "They won't fall forever." She stroked Temari's head. "In the way the day will flow: All things come, all things go…"

Hirohiko wondered why lullabies always had to be sad. But they were. The best ones always had an element of sadness to them. He could remember one that his mother sang to him that contained the line: 'I will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile'. Why did people have to write songs about going away? Now that he had the perfect family, the perfect wife, he didn't want anything to change. Everything should always stay this way. Peaceful. Perfect. Loving.

"Listen to the rain. Here it comes again. Hear it in the rain…"

Temari was assuredly all the way asleep by now. Her head was tipped back, her mouth open. Hirohiko was often amused by the way his daughter was the clumsiest, most undignified sleeper ever. He'd taken pictures of her asleep before, just to tease her with them later. He'd joked about putting them in the mass picture frame on the wall in the living room. She'd wailed, 'No, Daaaaad!' When he had her hopping up and down trying to take the pictures away to hide them somewhere, he'd relented.

Hirohiko glanced at Kankuro. As always, Kankuro stubbornly clung on to hear the end of the lullaby. His eyes were closed, but his hand was curled around his mother's fingers, keeping her sitting on the edge of the bed until the song was done.

"Late at night, I drift away…I can hear you calling," Karura sang softly. "And my name is in the rain. Leaves on trees…whispering. Deep blue seas…mysteries."

Kankuro shifted his head on his pillow in a way that meant he was ready to go to sleep as soon as he heard the end of the melody.

"Even when this moment ends, I can't let go this feeling…" Karura stroked their son's arm.

That line struck straight at Hirohiko's heart. It was as if his wife had sung what he was feeling, knowing how he felt as he watched her sing their children to sleep.

"Everything, will come on again," Karura sang softly. "In the sound…falling down…Of the sky…as it cries…Hear my name…in the rain…"

Kankuro was asleep, a soft sigh of breath escaping his lips.

Karura waited a few minutes to be sure. Their children didn't stir. She nodded to herself and carefully rose, making no sound as she crossed the room to where Hirohiko waited at the door.

Hirohiko slipped an arm around her and held her closely.

Karura kissed his ear.

"You're right," Hirohiko whispered.

She didn't ask him what she was right about. They walked with their arms around each other to their bedroom, the room next door. They shut the door quietly, with a soft scrape of the bottom of the door against the carpet. The baby monitor would do its job, allowing them to hear anything amiss in the nursery. Until one of their children woke up, they could sleep.

Hirohiko lay in bed with Karura and let her stroke his hair until he fell asleep. He needed this ritual as much as the children needed their lullabies.