Not wanting to provoke this strange Gaara – who, she suspects, is making conversation - she sits down. Temari POV two-shot. Part two to folow soon.
Returning to Norm
Part 1: Retribution
A/N: I'm writing this partially because so very few authors have dealt with just how Temari and Kankurou began to adjust to the'new' Gaara - not even canon does that! - and because I've noticed a slightly annoying tendency in authors to give Gaara succinct, smoothly flowing speeches that are just so out of character. I mean really, re-watch the series, re-read the manga: he's completely socially inept! He doesn't make cool speeches until Naruto Shippuuden! Before then, he's... painfully awkward. That's what I'm going for here, so please, review and tell me how I did.
This by the way, will be a two-shot, since I couldn't really find a way to smoothly move from the first part to the second part. It you want, you can take it as one of my Temari drabbles, but if it's long enough to need two parts, I'm not sure it really counts as a drabble.
The nightmare was long and arduous, and she woke up sweating and shaking. She sat there for long moments, trying to shake off the remnants of the dream. It wasn't as easy as it might have seemed; for one, she had never had a dream quite like this one. Confused images of Gaara battling the Uchiha boy and the strange blonde boy who had done what no other could do - or at least what she had thought no other could do - mixed with her imaginings of what he had often threatened to do to Temari and Kankurou.
Glancing at the clock, she decided it was too late to go back to bed. With that thought, and with her nightmare in mind, she rose, dressed, and patted silently to the bathroom, where she negligently, decadently washed her face with near freezing water.
Her eyes were burning with need to sleep: this was the fourth night this week that she had slept badly, the eleventh night this month. Normally when she found herself sweating and shaking in bed, she spent the rest of the few hours before she had to get up staring at the ceiling and trying to forget the images that ran through her head with evanescent clarity.
Three weeks ago, the blonde boy had turned aside Gaara's assault on his friends as easily as Konoha had turned aside Sand's attack on the city. Not that Sound had helped any. Not that Temari had expected them to.
Two weeks and two days ago, Temari, Kankurou and Gaara had returned to Sand, broken and shell-shocked, to discover that their father was dead. None of them, except possibly Gaara, had cared. Likely, Gaara had only cared enough to dance on the fucker's grave. Temari held no illusions about her father's morality, humanity or worth. The Sandaime Kazekage might as well have coined the phrase 'dysfunctional family'.
Belatedly, one week and four days ago, the nightmares had started. They hadn't let up since. Temari wondered - even as she borrowed some of Kankurou's flesh toned foundation, since the white Kabuki paint gave him rashes - why it had taken five days for the nightmares to start.
Perhaps it had taken that long for the shock to wear off - though she didn't remember that from her studies on shinobi psychoses. Or perhaps it had only taken that long for Gaara's strange behavior to get to her (/'I'm sorry'/ he whispered, before the light figure leaning precariously on her shoulder grew heavy and sand surrounded her, crushing her legs, her arms, her chest, and the pain went on, and on, and on, never ceasing).
She shivered, and decided that what she needed to get those damn nightmares out of her head and her face was /kohii/. The strange, bitter drink had been brought up from the south of Wind country, and though Temari and Kankurou were still suspicious of it - such a strong taste could easily mask any number of poisons - neither could deny that it woke them up more effectively than tea.
Getting into the kitchen for the precious /kohii/was more difficult than she might have imagined. Kankurou - on 'Gaara watch'night shift - was sprawled across the floor of the doorway, fast asleep. She paused, tempted to kick him awake. She didn't - the look on his face spoke of no nightmares, and she knew Kankurou's dreams had been no more restful than hers, lately. Still, she cast him a furious glance.
Secondly, the second she stepped over Kankurou's unconscious form, she was the target of an often deadly gaze. Temari froze, cursing inwardly for not having realized that if Kankurou was at the door/of the kitchen, Gaara would be /in the kitchen ('I'm sorry', he whispers, arms wrapping around her, in a hug that is so familiar - so heartbreakingly familiar - that she collapses into her mother's arms with amuffled sob, and screams in pain as the Uchiha's thousand bird lightning technique rips through her back).
Her eyes meet his. He is playing with a kunai, the hand holding it frozen nearly a foot above the other, the sand spread out in aprotective arch three or four inches above the skin of his other hand. Under her gaze, he loosens his grip on the knife, and puts it down. He says nothing, but continues to watch her as she turns away, and begins making the preparations for her cup of /kohii/.
"You are not sleeping."
His voice nearly causes her to drop the cup she is holding. She starts, and turns to him, staring. He isn't looking at her, but is instead, poking at his skin distractedly.
"No," she says eventually, and he looks up. She stares into his eyes, trying to discern the tone he is speaking in - because it isn't his usual scorn, and hatred, and Temari is completely lost in this new territory that Gaara has revealed of himself.
"Why?" he asks.
"I just can't," she says, with an air of finality that flies straight over Gaara's head. Or perhaps it didn't, because he doesn't say anything. But his gaze still bores into her, and she only barely manages not to embarrass herself by being startled when the kettle shrieks. Kankurou, she notices, reacts only by shifting to a more comfortable position. She frowns.
"Did you drug him?" she asks the younger of her brothers.
"No," the boy - the man - the /thing/answers.
She glances suspiciously at Kankurou. He snores, which she knows means he is sleeping deeply, and well. He continues to snore as she makes her /kohii/, pouring the boiling water onto the crushed beans.
For lack of any other options, and not wanting to provoke this strange Gaara - who, she suspects, is making /conversation/- she sits down opposite him at the kitchen table. Once again, he is playing with the knife, stabbing it faster and faster at the back of his hand. Temari is almost mesmerized by the speed at which the sand moves.
Then it hits her: if he were to actually move fast enough - like that boy with the monstrous eyebrows and the fish eyes - he would stab himself. He would bleed. She blinks, trying not to look concerned, though why she should be escapes her. But she is.
"Can you put down the knife?" she asks. "It's creeping me out."
He blinks at her, hands poised in an exactly replica of their pose when she first entered the kitchen. "Yes," he says. And puts down the knife.
She sips at her /kohii/, Gaara's conversational skills seemingly spent, and tries to pretend he isn't there. Isn't watching her.
"I am wondering," he eventually says, and Temari's eyes crack open enough to see him, not looking at her, but at the knife in front of him. "Why he did not kill me." His gaze stabs at her. "Tell me why he did not kill me."
There is no need to ask who. There is only one person who has come to a point where they might have been able to kill Gaara, and he has been in Temari's thoughts for the entire three weeks since.
"I don't know," she says (because she's fairly sure that if she'd been in that boy's position, she'd have killed Gaara). "Maybe he's the type for forgiveness."
"Forgiveness," Gaara mutters. "I don't know what that is. What is forgiveness?" The instant it began, his moment of reflection was over, and Temari was speared with his eyes again. They were, frankly, the part she hated most about him.
She says nothing, trying to see something of their family (/family? HA! /her thoughts whisper) in his eyes. There is nothing. His eyes are the demon's, because from the kohl rings to the foreign color, there is nothing to say she and he are related.
There is nothing in his hair, either, or his manner to suggest the same. He might as well have been an orphan picked up off the streets. Temari feels a painful ache as she is forcibly reminded of her mother's screaming, raging, hating death.
"I don't know," she answers again - daring him to punish her for it - "I'm more the type for retribution."
Gaara's gaze drops to the table, and the space between where his eyebrows should have been contracts into a furrow. "Could you?"
"Could I forgive?" she asks, for clarification. He nods, and she spends a moment in thought. She never has before. She doubts she ever will: the only outstanding transgressions against her are the type that could only be forgiven if she endured a massive head injury, and lost her memory of them entirely. But then she wouldn't be her.
Her kohii is finished, and she gets up, dropping it in the sink. She steps over Kankurou's body, and says, "I don't know, I've never tried," on her way back to her room.