Author's Note: 2 years after the Fourth Shinobi World War, Kankuro is happy. But he still needs his father's approval.

A Sanctified Happiness

It had been a long time.

Kankuro knelt by his father's grave, the Kazekage Complex's bare adobe wall shading him from the late afternoon sun. The ground was hot and gritty. He could only stay a moment before his siblings would wonder what he was doing, but he felt he had to pay his respects. And ask a question. "Hey, Tousan. How're you doing? Is it nice where you live? Is Mom there? I hope she is. You were always so sad after she died. I bet you're getting lots of quality time now. I'm glad." He paused. Five years ago he had cried over this same gravestone. Baki had come and carried him inside. He'd been sobbing too hard to stand.

Now things were different.

"I'm happy now," Kankuro whispered. "I hope you're happy too. You deserve it." He paused and glanced at the back window of the Kazekage mansion; round and shaded by a plain white awning. The window in the back sitting room looked out on the Kazekage Memorial Cemetery. If his brother or sister chanced to walk through there, say on their way from the study, or the library, they would see him.

He didn't want any awkward questions. They might think he was grieving again or something.

Kankuro looked back at the simple gravestone with the two names inscribed vertically in kanji: his mother on the right, and his father on the left. "Tousan...I want to know if you approve. Give me a sign, please. I know that you've been watching me. And Mom. But said she was never one to judge, that she never cared about anything except if we all loved each other. Well, I love Gaara, very much, so I don't think she can be unhappy." He hesitated. "But what about you? Tousan...I know you had some harsh ideals in life; most of them came from your dad, and his dad, and his dad, even, I bet. All the way down the line. But...I do love Gaara. Even if you can't understand why I do it, I do. I do. And I want your approval." Kankuro felt tears in his eyes, remembering his father's pride the day he graduated from the academy. "I always did."

A hot flutter of a breeze rubbed against Kankuro's cheek, stifling but soft, like a cat rubbing against a person's legs.

Kankuro stood and smiled, looking out across the desert, the cliffs shadowy red in the background. He thought he saw a swirl of sand, glittering in the strong sunlight like gold dust. He took that for his sign.

"That's all I had to ask," Kankuro whispered. "Thanks, Dad. I love you, too." He walked to the back door of the mansion. It's been hard growing up without you.

He found Gaara in the study, poring over scrolls as usual. "Hey, Ototo." He closed the door quietly and padded over, leaning over Gaara's chair and wrapping his arms around Gaara in a hug. "What're you doing? It's almost dinnertime. You know Temari's rules about no work during mealtimes."

"That is why I must rush to beat the deadline," Gaara said, with a small smile.

Kankuro chuckled. "Is that right?" He kissed Gaara's cheek. Gaara made a very handsome seventeen-year-old. He'd always be shorter than Kankuro, since he'd been born premature, but they looked alike in many ways; especially since Kankuro's form had finished filling out in a carbon copy of their father's willowy frame.

Gaara slid his chair out and turned, wrapping his arms around Kankuro's waist and pulling his brother down to him.

Kankuro willingly sat on Gaara's lap, his cheeks warm.

Gaara gave him a gentle kiss, mouthing his lips.

Kankuro kissed back, stroking Gaara's cheek. He loved no one in the world more than Gaara, and he knew Gaara felt the same.

It was nice to know that their parents, both of them, granted them mercy in this. Gaara was the main source of happiness in Kankuro's life.