Author's Note: This story features Hirohiko, Ariel-D's version of Yondaime Kazekage. Used with her permission.

Father and Daughter

In Suna culture, the stereotype was that a man didn't feel like a father until his firstborn son came along.

Hirohiko certainly felt like a father enough when Temari was born, especially since she'd immediately latched herself onto him as soon as she could walk. And before that, Hirohiko had always managed to rock her to sleep faster, and change her diaper with less fuss, in spite of the fact that Karura was a wonderful mother. Karura teased him that he had the magic touch.

"Our daughter's a daddy's girl," she'd say with a grin.

Hirohiko would agree with a sigh and a blush. "Hai."

If Temari were crying when he got home from the other side of the Kazekage Complex, she would stop when she saw him. Conversely, if he were the one feeding her, she would throw things a lot more, which Karura said was a sign of affection and attachment.

"Why?" he complained.

Karura laughed and wiped baby food off his cheek. "Because she wants you to pick it up."

Hirohiko grumbled and picked up the plastic spoon, much to Temari's delight. "I always do."

"I know." Karura hugged him. "That's why you're her favorite. I don't play that game."

Hirohiko washed the spoon off in the sink and turned around just in time to see Temari's bowl of applesauce go flying.

He hung his head.

After dinner, he would sit on the sofa with Temari and read her a story, which Temari seemed to genuinely understand. She pointed at the pictures and babbled, anyway. So far, the only words she said were 'Mommie', 'Daddy', and 'mine'.

Hirohiko felt a little guilty about stealing the evenings away from Karura, which was stereotypical mother territory, but Karura understood. Evenings were the only time available to spend with his daughter. If he didn't have that, he wouldn't have anything.

"Besides," Karura said, while they went upstairs to tuck Temari into her crib and go to bed themselves. "I have her all day the rest of the day. I get all the burps, diaper changes, and food throwing I want."

Hirohiko laughed. "Our daughter is not composed of burping, pooping, and eating."

"No…just mostly," Karura teased, ruffling Temari's hair and kissing her daughter's forehead.

Hirohiko rolled his eyes. He knew Karura didn't feel that way. The fact that she tested the temperature of Temari's food against her wrist three times and snuggled Temari into naptime on the sofa every day proved that.

Karura swaddled Temari carefully, the way the med nins had shown them at the hospital: never too tightly, always leaving the legs a pocket of room to move in, and settling Temari on her back instead of her side or stomach. Hirohiko watched at his wife's shoulder while Karura sang their daughter a lullaby and turned on the mobile that usually finished the job of soothing Temari to sleep. It was an electric contraption designed to spin its moon and star decorations in a slow, soothing pattern.

When Temari was out like a light, they went to bed, arm in arm, and Karura sang him to sleep. He used to tell her it wasn't necessary, since he didn't want her to lose sleep trying to give him special treatment, but by now he coveted the time. He snuggled her, and she sang and stroked his hair until he fell asleep.

Inevitably, in a few hours, they would wake up to Temari fussing on the baby monitor, so Hirohiko took all the sleep he could get. If he was expected to wake up at a moment's notice when the village was in danger, he was certainly going to wake up if Temari needed him.

Did he feel like a father, only having a daughter to look after? Of course he did. He was one.