“Gaara? Can I talk to you?” Kankuro was looking into his room at him with a nervous twitch in his eye. What could his brother want...he never initiated conversation with him. Gaara set his book down and nodded for his brother to enter and sit in the chair across from him.
“I erased the video of, uh you know. You and Sakura. Uncle doesn’t need to know okay?” Kankuro said haltingly, then flinched as Gaara rose from his seat to punch his brother in the face.
How did he know, how did he...did he watch the video feed, was he spying on him? Gaara was furious. Furious that Kankuro would dare spy on him, furious that he had seen Sakura in a compromising position, he had seen the way his brother looked at the woman and he didn’t like it. He knew what kinds of thoughts men had about women who looked like Sakura, only he was allowed to think of her that way. Him and his Uncle... He almost growled at the thought of Kankuro entertaining such ludicrous thoughts.
No, he tried to calm himself, that wasn’t it. Why would his brother, who knew him well enough to know he would kill him for any slight, reveal something like that to him. Surely the man had seen his interest in the woman. Gaara made no effort to hide it from Kankuro, there was no need. Only his Uncle was unaware of his true feelings for Sakura.
“Sakura?” Gaara asked, his eyes narrowed on his brother.
“When you attacked her, in her room…” Kankuro looked petrified and Gaara wondered why he was telling him this. Clearly he had been watching the cameras in Sakura’s room, something he was not authorized to do, something he himself took pleasure in...but Kankuro...was on dangerous ground with this admission and would be punished.
Gaara began to rise from his chair, he would make it hurt, his brother needed to remember his place.
“...uh on accident.” Kankuro added quickly, panic in his eyes. Panic and...something else...
Gaara stopped, dropping his raised fist back down to his side as he narrowed his eyes at his brother. ‘On accident’, Kankuro had said, so his brother thought, knew that...did he know he hadn’t meant to attack her?
“Why?” Gaara asked, sitting back down in his chair and looking at his brother with great suspicion. “Why would you do that for me?”
Kankuro had never done anything but cower, run and hide from him. Why would he...help him like this, it didn’t make any sense to Gaara. Was he trying to...protect him from their Uncle? Impossible, Kankuro hated him, he wouldn’t do that.
“I see that you're getting better, you’re, you know, not as cruel and I think...you could keep going, you know?” His brother smiled nervously at him.
What? His brother...had noticed and did this to...help him? This was unexpected.
“Keep going?” He wanted him to keep trying, his brother...cared about him, after everything he had done, after what he had become over the years, his brother still...memories of them as children flashed through his head making it hurt.
He remembered playing in the huge sandbox in the inner manse court with his siblings when they were kids, when Kankuro and Temari weren’t scared of him, before they had started to distance themselves from him, when they still...loved him. Could Kankuro still…
“Yeah you know. Try for what you want, what you need, you know what I mean?” Kankuro said quickly.
Gaara hesitated. He had learned over the years that the only person he could trust was Uncle. He had learned the only strong person he could respect was Uncle...but here was his older brother, sitting in front of him, licking his lips in his nervousness, obviously terrified at his own actions but still, trying, reaching out for...him, for his little brother, for…
“I want Sakura.” Gaara said clearly. I need her, he said silently to himself.
“Same thing boy’, the voice in his head laughed at him. Was it, Gaara wondered, no...he didn’t think it was.
Love though, that wasn’t the same thing...as though Kankuro had read his mind...
“I know, I uh saw, you really, love her huh?” Kankuro smiled when his brother nodded slowly. “What about Uncle though?”
What about Uncle though, those were the same words he had been asking himself over and over. Yes, Gaara loved Sakura but he wasn’t sure what kind of love it was yet. In the books he read they talked of love frequently, he knew there were different kinds of love, he knew the love he had for her wasn’t healthy but…it could be, if he could control it...if she returned it.
‘You can’t control it’, the voice in his head cooed. ‘You want her, you want to own her, rip her, bleed her’, Gaara frowned, no...he didn’t want to hurt her. He wanted to take care of her, to talk with her and learn more about her, to enjoy the simple things like a walk in the gardens with her, to…’Kiss her and bite her and force her into submission. It’s what she wants too boy, she wants you to dominate her, she is strong willed, it thrills her’, Gaara didn’t understand how the voice in his head could think that.
‘She isn’t the meek woman everyone thought she was. Remember the car ride, how thrilled she was, the passion and excitement in her eyes? The same excitement in her eyes when you backed her up against the bed and forced her into your hand’, the voice taunted him with the memory of his hands on her skin, the taste of her mouth when he took it with his, the smell of her blood when he had bitten her…
Was there excitement in her eyes, he couldn’t remember. All he could remember was the taste of her sweet blood on his lips.
‘She wants you’, the voice insisted. ‘If she wanted your Uncle, she would have told you then, when you had your hands up her shirt, when you had your hands on her body, your fists in her hair...but she didn’t...did she’, the voice sang loudly in his head.
“She doesn’t love him.” Gaara said quietly. The voice was right, she had only told him to stop because...because he hadn’t asked? ...because he had been too fast, too sudden perhaps?
“Right, well that’s good then but uh, he has it in his head to have her too you know right? I don’t know what to do about that but uh, look I just want you to have your fair chance. I think she likes you.” Kankuro rose from his seat. “Just think about it okay?”
Think about it...what was there to think about that he hadn’t already considered. Yes, his Uncle had claimed her but he hadn’t slept with her yet, she was still free to make her own choices. She was still free to choose him if...his Uncle would never allow it. His Uncle had chosen the woman, she couldn’t say no. His Uncle always got what he wanted and he had wanted Sakura for a very long time.
He had known from the start, from the first time she had reached out to him and touched his face, that it was a losing battle but...he had never wanted anything or anyone like he had wanted her before and it wasn’t just the physical pull he felt toward her no, Sakura was a very beautiful woman...but it wasn’t just her beauty that he had been attracted to.
She was special in a way that was easily overlooked. Her sharpness of mind was hidden underneath that fly away candy floss hair, behind those sparkling green eyes. If you only looked at her and took her for face value, you would never see it. No, her real beauty lay within.
She was empathetic but not weak. She judged without being judgmental.
Gaara thought that it might be because she herself was so often underestimated that she knew not to make the same mistakes with others, that she had taught herself to see what couldn’t be seen, to hear what wasn’t said and to feel what others felt without asking, without...having to offend but by just being there, observing.
Like she had done and was doing with him. She had told him to stop, so he had. It was simple. She had his respect.
Gaara nodded. “Okay.”
Kankuro said that he wanted Gaara to have his fair chance...okay, fair chance...something he had never had before, and his brother...wanted him to have it. Kankuro gained nothing from this, he couldn’t possibly have an ulterior motive, there was no reason to put himself at risk for something so...trivial.
Gaara was surprised...Kankuro knew, he understood what this meant to Gaara, he had seen without seeing, without being told how Sakura made him feel? Gaara couldn’t be sure, but it was clear...Kankuro had just gone against their Uncle, someone he feared and with good reason. His Uncle had killed almost all of their family, members who had foolishly opposed him, members who had gone against him just like Kankuro was doing now.
This meant something…Kankuro wasn’t doing this out of fear of Gaara, he was doing it for Gaara out of, out of...what?
“Thank you.” Gaara whispered quietly, so quietly he was sure his brother hadn’t heard him. He didn’t know what else to say, he wasn’t sure how he felt right now. The voice in his head was protesting his feelings, his reasoning, the voice was trying to convince him that his brother was doing this for his own selfish gain. There was none though, Gaara told the voice. He can only be doing this for...him, for Gaara, because he cared about him.
‘Fool’, the voice said, half heartedly. ‘You’ll see. No one loves you, no one cares about you, not even that woman. She may think she cares, she may be trying to help you and sincerely care now, but you’ll see...she’s just like everyone else. Once she finds out who you really are...she will run, she will scream...she will hate you. Just. Like.. Everyone. Else.’, the voice taunted him.
“You’re wrong.” Gaara said viciously. Sakura wasn’t like that. Gaara picked the book up that he had been reading before his brother had come into his room to talk to him. “You’re wrong.” He said again and the voice fell silent.
Shortly after his brother had left his room Gaara could hear voices in the hall, his Uncle was speaking to his brother. Did his Uncle know, had he been listening to them talk...was his...brother in danger? Should he...no, he told himself, what did he care if his Uncle killed his brother.
...but he realized, he did care. Gaara swallowed. Pointless, he told himself. Just because his brother had gone out of his way to do something for him didn’t mean Gaara should go out of his way to do something pointless for his brother in return...but Sakura, she would disagree wouldn’t she. Gaara rose to his feet, setting his book down. Perhaps he should…
No. He sat back down. It wasn’t any of his business. He picked his book back up and began to read again as his Uncle entered his room. Gaara rose to his feet, inclining his head politely to his Uncle. “Uncle.” He set his book down, once again and gave his full attention to Sasori.
“I am considering an alliance with the Senju. Madara Uchiha has been reported dead. Kankuro has just left to get me proof.” Sasori said abruptly.
The Senju...allies of the Uchiha, the ones who had tried to control Sakura. Madara Uchiha had yet to pay for his crimes against the woman...Gaara wondered what this would mean for Sakura, what it would mean to Sakura if they allied themselves with the Senju and in turn with the Uchiha by association to the other clan. He didn’t think this was a good idea. Sakura wouldn’t like it.
“Are you listening to me Gaara?” Sasori frowned at him and he realized a bit belatedly he had gotten lost in his own train of thought. Something he had never done before while in the audience of his Uncle, something he would need to be careful to never do again. It would raise suspicion and cast doubt upon his character. His Uncle was an observant man, he couldn’t allow himself to show such weaknesses, it was dangerous.
“Of course Uncle.” Gaara inclined his head to his Uncle, giving him his full attention once more.
“I will be leaving tomorrow for Oto. I am closing all of the Akasuna holdings there and bringing back the residents that worked there under our name.” Sasori said. “I will be gone no more than a week at most.”
A week, Gaara wasn’t happy with this. He didn’t want to be away from Sakura for that long. They had just gotten to Suna, she didn’t know anyone there but them. Had his Uncle told her yet? Had he told her they would be leaving her alone with strangers for a week, and Oto, why was his Uncle closing their Oto holdings, they were profitable, they were flourishing. It didn’t make sense.
What had changed, what had happened to make his Uncle want to close their businesses in Oto. Sakura didn’t know about them, she wouldn’t be in Oto to see them, why would he feel the need to close such profitable branches of their enterprise? Did it really matter though, no.
“Of course Uncle. I will be ready to leave in the morning.” He didn’t want to leave Sakura alone but his place was by his Uncle’s side, for now…he would speak with Kankuro before he left. His brother would watch over the woman for him while he was away with his Uncle.
Sasori stopped his thoughts with a raised hand. “I would like you to stay here. To watch over Sakura for me.” Sasori said slowly. “We are married now. She will need your protection.”
“Married?” Gaara heard his voice crack, adrenaline rushing through his veins.
Sasori stood in his doorway, an odd expression on his face as he looked back at his nephew. “Yes. As of two hours ago.”
Gaara tried to calm his rapid breathing, willing back the choking noises in the back of his throat until he was sure his Uncle had walked far enough away and down the hall before closing his eyes and began choking on his labored breath.
‘Married, looks like you’re too late, he’s already fucked her then huh. He probably forced her, took her right out from underneath you didn’t he’, the voice taunted.
‘Right after you confessed your love to her, he took her from you. You’re weak, you’re so weak boy. If you had listened to me, if you had followed through with it, had taken her there before him, she would be married to you, not him right now wouldn’t she? You have just as much of a claim to the title Kazekage as your Uncle does. Fool’, the voice berated him relentlessly, taunting him with the words he had thought over so many times.
That’s not how I wanted her, I didn’t want to force her. I wanted her to choose me like she chose to touch me, of her own will, of her own desire, she...she cares about me, I know it! Gaara screamed at the voice in his head, willing it to shut up, to let him think. He needed to stay calm, he needed to relax.
“It’s okay. Friends. We’re friends. It’s okay.” He said to himself, muttering while holding the side of his head with one hand. “It’s okay.” He told himself over and over again.
“We have time. We will figure it out, we have time.” He said again and sat down in his reading chair. His Uncle was leaving tomorrow, in the morning and Sakura would be here with him, alone. “It will be okay.” He said again, to no one.
Kankuro’s thoughts wandered as he drove down the empty road to the marked location on his phone’s GPS. Madara Uchiha was dead. Kankuro never thought he would hear those words. The man had always been so formidable, so untouchable and elusive. He wondered who finally got him in the end. Who killed Madara Uchiha and who had told his Uncle the man was dead...
Proof, that’s what his Uncle had wanted. So, there was a possibility that it wasn’t really Madara Uchiha? No, his Uncle would have sent someone else if he thought it was a hoax or a bad lead. As much as their Uncle liked to downplay their existence or importance in his life Kankuro knew otherwise. He knew that his Uncle valued them.
Kankuro wasn’t fool enough to think that their Uncle cared about them, no, never...because it wasn’t true. Sasori did however value them as useful tools. That’s why he had sent Kankuro to check on the validity of the Uchiha clan head’s demise. He knew Kankuro would know what to look for and what Sasori was looking for.
Kankuro wasn’t Gaara, no one was as good of a killer, as loyal to Sasori as his brother was...had been, but Kankuro and Temari were good at what they did for their Uncle. There were only a few family members left in Suna. His Uncle may not show it but blood ties were important to him.
He doubted that Gaara knew the truth of their story, how Temari and him had both stayed, both pledged their loyalty to Sasori...because of him, because of their little brother. They had stayed, to protect him. It was clear to them that Gaara had chosen their Uncle instead of death and they had followed him.
It was clear that Gaara idolized the man from a very young age, but Kankuro thought that admiration was misplaced affection. It was because of the praise and attention their Uncle gave their younger brother, praise and attention their father had never given him, them...that Gaara had chosen to serve their Uncle.
...and Kankuro didn’t blame him, not really.
For many years now Kankuro and Temari had thought their brother was lost, unsalvageable...but then Sakura Haruno had come along and had given them all something they hadn’t had since their mother had been alive. Hope.
Hope that the future held more than blood, more than death for all of them. Kankuro had seen his brother smile again and wanted to see more of it. He had seen the light shine in his sister’s eyes when she looked from the woman to their brother, she saw it too, she knew. She hoped.
Kankuro frowned. Their Uncle would never give the woman up, they all knew that. Gaara had admitted that he wanted her, that he loved her but...did Gaara even know what that meant...Kankuro wasn’t sure. He had seen him with his victims, had seen his little brother demand they tell him they loved him and then he would kill them, cave the kanji for love into them sometimes, or cut them in a most disfiguring manner.
No. He wasn’t sure about anything as he pulled up to a dense overgrowth of forest on the outskirts of Fire and SouthWind country.
Kankuro looked down at his phone, a slight down turn of his mouth as he saw the radar on his GPS. “Looks like I'm walking here.”
Madara Uchiha had better be dead, this wasn’t going to be fun, Kankuro hated walking through woods and it looked like it was about to rain...