A/N: So I'm a terrible person and haven't posted on this work in almost a year. There really is no excuse, I'm just a lazy bum. So, taking that into consideration here is my next chapter. I hope you like it. I'll try to be more prompt but I think we all know how well that is going to turn out. Thank you for your support!

It was another week before Naoki got the news that Temari was out of the hospital and resting comfortably in her own room. She was glad but she was still feeling the effects of her chakra transfer. If she hadn't been so sleep deprived she was sure she would have recovered sooner. However, with the amount of work she was trying to do, along with treating patients it was getting harder to keep up with everything and rest properly.

Diachi had come back with the last group of wounded shinobi weeks ago but he had soon fallen victim to the illness. He blamed it on the young man who vomited blood all over him while he was giving treatment. Either way it left Naoki at the top of the food chain while Diachi was still recovering. The day after the symptoms started to disappear patients were no longer at risk of spreading infection. However it took almost two weeks for them to gather some semblance of their former strength and Diachi was just starting to reach that point.

Naoki rubbed her temples as a headache thundered in her ears. The seals on the scroll in front of her were blurred and she was sure it was due to her exhaustion. With a frustrated, yet weary huff she made her way to her bed in the greenhouse and fell asleep as soon as she had lain down.

When Naoki woke up she hurried to her office and quickly started checking in on everybody. Now that he was on his feet Diachisama had already left to address the jonin council about continuing the travel ban. Until a stronger medicine was concocted villagers were not allowed to travel. It would prevent the disease from spreading to other villages. It was three in the afternoon before Naoki got the chance to sit down and get something to eat. She was going over the stages of the disease and its symptoms when someone knocked and walked into her office. Looking up Naoki scowled. She usually didn't mind interruptions but she wanted to fully understand the illness so she could test the antibiotic she was about to make. She knew what happened once the patients were far along enough to be diagnosed. However it was still proving difficult to identify the disease before the more obvious symptoms came along.

Kankuro poked his head in and saw Naoki scowling at him. "Is something wrong?" She asked, exhaustion tempering her annoyance. Kankuro shrugged, "Besides the usual? Not really, but I was wondering if you'd eaten recently." Naoki opened her mouth to reply and then shut it, her scowl deepening in concentration. "I actually don't remember when I last ate." Kankuro nodded, "That's what I thought. I'm going to grab something for you. What sounds good?" Naoki flapped her hand, "Anything, thanks." Kankuro nodded and smirked, "I'll meet you in the green house." Naoki nodded as her stomach rolled. She hadn't eaten not because she wasn't hungry but the thought of food had started to make her nauseous. Naoki shook her head once more to try and rid herself of the nausea as she turned back to her work. Realizing the nausea wasn't dissipating she got up and started toward the green house. If she ended up being too nauseous to eat she could at least talk to Kankuro and get some more sleep.

Naoki leaned against the wall while her head spun. She was exhausted but she had to finish making a stronger antibiotic. After she had lunch with Kankuro she could rest. She considered the incubation and the symptoms the illness. It was most likely bacterial but all of the antibiotics they'd used had failed. So she needed to make a much stronger antibiotic that would destroy any type of resistant strain. Since the sickness had struck she had been working with little rest but never had her exhaustion hit her so hard. Dizzingly Naoki looked at her hands and saw that they were shaking. Just before she collapsed she realized what was wrong. She wasn't tired or rather she wasn't just tired… she was infected.

Kankuro quickly walked through the hallways searching for Naoki. She was exhausted and needed food but from the reports he had heard she was in the process of making an antibiotic that could cure the disease. However she still had yet to make it. He had just passed her office on his way to the green house when a group of medical nin rushed by him with a patient. Kankuro ignored them, he needed to get to the green house to meet Naoki. A few moments later when he arrived he was surprised to see that she wasn't there. The relatively small area was bustling with several medic nin and it looked as if they were all working on the same thing. If Naoiki were there she would have had a heart attack knowing how many unauthorized personnel were in her space. "Oi," Kankuro yelled above the noise, "Where's Naoki?" No one stopped except one of the younger novice looking medics. "Umm sir," He stuttered, "Naokisama has fallen ill before she could complete the antibiotic. However she did leave the partial chemical structure and formula here for us to follow." The medic said with a tired smile. He had hoped that the news of the antibiotic being made as they spoke would ease the jounin's mind. Most in the hospital knew that Kankuro and Naoki were close but very few of them knew how close. Kankuro froze. 'Naoki was ill? But when?' Kankuro suddenly thought of the medics that had rushed pass him on his way to Naoki's office. They had been so urgent... He didn't even notice the cursing that followed him out the door. The medic didn't mention how no one had any luck making the antibiotic yet. All attempts at making it had failed.

Turning quickly Kankuro walked back to the main hospital and cornered one of the nurses. "Where is she?" He growled trying not to make a scene. The nurse, recognizing who it was, immediately pointed him in the direction of the room where she had been placed. "But no one is allowed to visit!" She yelled desperately down the hallway at the puppeteer. Barely able to contain his frustration Kankuro burst into the room without even pausing for the medic at the door yelling at him to stop.

Despite his determination Kankuro didn't even make it all the way through the doorway before several medics were trying to push him outside the room. From what he could make out Naoki was being stripped of her clothing and cold ice packs were being applied to her body. She feverishly tried to shy away from the ice that was being packed around her as she poured sweat. Her eyes were open but glazed and she whimpered quietly from the cold. Shivers wracked her body as her eyes finally rolled back as she lost consciousness. Just then Kankuro was finally pushed out of the room and before he could force his way back in a calm and cold voice stopped him. "Kankuro, stay out here and let them do their work in peace." Gaara looked at his older brother and could feel the worry coming off him in waves. Kankuro grit his teeth and grabbed the door frame tightly. He couldn't even register the fact that his younger brother wasn't supposed to be anywhere near the hospital. "I can't let her be alone." I can't let her die alone, he added silently in his mind. Walking up slowly behind his older brother Gaara put a hand on his shoulder. "Kankuro, she'll make it." He reassured firmly guiding the puppeteer to a few waiting chairs placed conveniently in the hallway.

They waited most of the night. The bustle in the room didn't slow down but the people in the room eventually switched shifts until those that had been in there when Kankuro and Gaara had arrived were not the same as those that were currently in the room. Suddenly, when it was nearing morning, a young medic ran down the hallway and into the room without being stopped. The noise in the room crescendoed and Kankuro perked up he started hearing hopeful murmurs from the room. When people slowly started to trickle out of her room he stood. Gaara simply watched his brother; he would wait for good news before he got his hopes up.

The doctor that walked out looked exhausted but satisfied. Moving past Kankuro he went and sat down heavily on the seat the puppet master had vacated and looked up at the two brothers. "What happened?" Kankuro asked through gritted teeth. The doctor sighed and started his explanation. "It seems as if Naokisama had been sick for a few days before but she didn't recognize her condition due to her extreme exhaustion in trying to fight this… plague. Her body gave out on her yesterday and we were hard pressed to keep her alive until the medicine that would fight this disease was made from the formula she had come up with. Unfortunately her temperature rose quite high before we could get her the medicine and we're unsure if we can keep her organs from failing. " "What took them so damn long?" Kankuro asked again, still angry that he hadn't been allowed to see Naoki yet. The doctor sighed again as if he were beyond tired. "If you don't already know it, Naokisama is a prodigy when it comes to herbs and the making of medicine. Suna has never seen anyone like her before. What I'm sure would have taken her but a few moments to concoct took a team of medical personnel a full night to make while working nonstop."

Gaara watched as his older brother took all of that in. Realizing Kankuro had reached his limit Gaara stood and walked toward Naoki's room. "We can see her." He stated. The doctor looked at the door and nodded. "Her condition is stable for now but we'll have to see how she fairs. Medical nin will be in and out all day but as long as you aren't in their way I don't see why you can't." Gaara nodded and Kankuro opened the door and walked in. Naoki was pale against the white hospital sheets and her breathing was ragged. Dried sweat gleamed on her skin and dark mottled marks were on her bare shoulders. Kankuro shuddered as he remembered Temari having the same marks later on in the disease. Carefully he took Naoki's hand and sat down next to her bed. Gaara watched and used sand to pull up another chair next to the hospital bed. He grabbed his brother's shoulder and comforted him as best as he could. He knew if the roles were switched and it was Mai in the bed while he was watching over her, Kankuro wouldn't leave him to face his grief alone. So Gaara stayed with Kankuro while the older jounin sat vigil over Naoki's resting form.

Temari yawned as she woke up from a restful slumber. She had heard the night before that Naoki had come up with an antibiotic that would treat the resistant strain that had cropped up in new patients. Kankuro had gone to check it out while she went back and rested for the night. If she were completely honest with herself she was still exhausted from the disease. It had certainly had its way with her and she knew she would have died if Naoki hadn't treated her as soon as she did. Temari held back a groan when she heard a knock on her door and a messenger came in. "What is it?" She asked sternly. "Mam, I was sent by Kazekagesama with a message." Temari perked up at the title of her youngest brother. Why would her brother send a messenger instead of simply coming himself? "I was told to let you know he and Kankurosama were in room 201 at the hospital with an ill Naokisama." "What?!" Temari exclaimed. "What had happened?!" The messenger looked at her and his eyes widened, "I-i-I don't know. I was just told to bring you the message." Temari snorted and ordered the boy out of her room so she could get dressed. It seemed like if she wanted to find out anything she would have to go and see her brothers herself.

Kankuro sat quietly, firmly holding Naoki's hand. People had come in all day but he hadn't paid any attention to them. The only other presence he acknowledged besides Naoki's was Gaara's. With each passing moment he just wished that Naoki would wake up and smile, ridiculing him for worrying so much but she only seemed to become increasingly listless. Her breathing became shallow and Kankuro started to wonder if the antibiotic had really worked. Suddenly as if his prayers were answered Naoki stirred and seemed as if she had regained consciousness. A few nurses were already in the room, as the day had gone on their visits had become more frequent and Naoki's vitals had become weaker. "Kankuro?" She breathed out weakly. Kankuro drew closer to her. "Naoki! I'm here don't worry everything will be alright." "Please don't leave me." She whispered and then her eyes glazed over as the heart monitor sounded a flatline. The nurses pushed Kankuro away as they started trying to revive her. "Naoki!?" Kankuro yelled toward the ill kunoichi. "Naoki, I'm here, I promise I'm not leaving! Please, please!" More medics poured into the room but no one, not even Gaara, could get Kankuro to leave Naoki's room. Finally they resigned to having the large jounin and his ever present younger brother in the room.

The doctors yelled information to each other as they tried to use the defibrillator to bring Naoki back. After a few tries and the flatline winning out every time one of the doctors was handed a large needle and they plunged it violently into Naoki's chest. Kankuro jerked as they did it and only Gaara's sand kept him in his place. Suddenly Naoki's heart rate shot up and after they injected something else into her IV it went back to a more normal tempo. Everyone around Naoki's bed sighed in relief and when they had all trickled away Kankuro rushed back to her side. Resuming his earlier position he held Naoki's hand and started talking to her; hoping that just by being with her she would find the strength to stay with him. Gaara watched his older brother and quietly walked out; he needed some time to gather himself. Kankuro needed him but Gaara didn't want to provide a false hope. If Kankuro asked if he thought Naoki would make it he couldn't lie to his brother. Kankuro deserved better than that, but he also deserved for Naoki to live. Running his hand through his hair in a rare display of anxiety he wished Mai was there to help him sort out his emotions but at the same time he was glad she wasn't there to catch the plague that had eaten away at his village. He had been ordered by the council to stay away from the hospital considering his possibly compromised immune system. However once Temari had gotten sick he had disregarded the council's orders. His village… his family needed him and he was not going to shy away from them to ensure his own safety.

Just as he was about to walk back in and stay with Kankuro he noticed Temari walking purposefully toward him. "Idiot." She exclaimed, "You should have sent a messenger as soon as you found out Naoki was sick. And you technically shouldn't even be here." Gaara kept his face blank and looked at his older sister as he ignored her latter comment, "I did…" He said. "You mean she got this bad that fast? Is it a new strain?" Temari looked to the room. Gaara shook his head and said, "No, it went unnoticed for a while before she collapsed from it." "How?" Gaara shrugged, "She confused it with her exhaustion from the past week's events. It is not hard to imagine how such a complete exhaustion could hide the disease." Temari nodded and looked toward the room and back to Gaara. "You've stayed with him since you found out?" Gaara nodded. "Then I'll take over from here." Temari stopped Gaara before he could start to protest. "I know you want to be here for him but half of the council that isn't bed ridden will want an update soon. We just got finished with a global war, they need reassurance." Seeing the logic in her decision Gaara nodded and replied, "Thank you, will you be alright?" Temari smiled, "I'll be fine. I may not be at my best but I think I can handle my little brother." Gaara let the corners of his mouth shift slightly upward just before he disappeared in a wave of sand and appeared in his office. Looking at the paperwork that had piled up he muttered dryly to himself, "This is what I get for being healthy."

Temari walked in and sat down next to Kankuro. Her brother barely acknowledged her presence before he went back to talking to Naoki in soft tones that only a few of those closest to him ever heard. Most days Kankuro was a smart ass puppeteer jounin with formidable power, a quick temper, and a sharp mind that many didn't see. But on rare occasions he was the loving and soft hearted younger brother that Temari had come to know and love. Heaven knew her family had problems expressing their emotions but when it came to Kankuro if either of his siblings needed him he was the first to expose his vulnerable inner heart. The occasions didn't call for it often but his complete honesty and total support of his siblings never wavered when things turned tough. Temari knew that both she and Gaara were more of what people would refer to as cold fish. However she had promised to try and show that same level of openness and compassionate concern with both of her brothers and she wasn't about to stop now. "Kankuro" She started, looking at her younger brother. He turned and she almost gasped at the level of desperation she saw in his eyes. She had known that he and Naoki's relationship had become more serious lately but she hadn't realized how serious until that moment. Her brother had fallen in love with someone and she had just realized it. Scolding herself mentally she finished her sentence, "Do you need anything?" She asked, hoping she could help in some way besides just sitting and waiting with him. Kankuro tightened his hold on Naoki's hand and looked at his older sister seriously. "She asked me not to leave her… I can't leave her…." "Okay." Temari said putting her hand on his back comfortingly, "and I'm not leaving you." Kankuro managed to lift his lips in a small sorrowful smile before he turned back to Naoki and started to talk to her again.

Kankuro's voice grew hoarse as he continued to talk. He needed her to know how much he cared for her. So he told her; over and over and over again until his voice was rough from speaking for so long and his lips were dry and cracked. As the rest of the day slipped away the night felt as if it dragged along but Naoki's condition did not change for better or worse. Finally when dawn broke she stirred. Kankuro stopped talking and unintentionally held his breath. Opening her eyes slowly Naoki waited for a few moments for her vision to clear before she tried to identify the figures near her. "Naoki?" Kankuro questioned; hoping against hope that the events of the past day wouldn't repeat themselves. "You're here." She said as she smiled weakly. She shakily squeezed her hand that was in his and closed her eyes falling back into a restful sleep. When she had awoken Temari had called in a nurse. An older nurse bustled in and evaluated Naoki's condition. Smiling the older woman looked at the two siblings, "The worst seems to be over. She's resting comfortably now." Temari sighed with relief while Kankuro grinned. "Knew you could do it." He whispered in her ear when the nurse had left.

Kankuro stayed with Naoki the rest of the day but couldn't stop himself from dozing in the chair next to her bed. Naoki woke several times after but couldn't keep her eyes open for more than a few seconds. Temari stayed with them and left every so often to stretch her legs and get meals for the both of them. Just as night was about to fall once more Temari convinced Kankuro to get up and take care of a few necessities before they settled in for the night. Kankuro didn't stay out longer than absolutely necessary and when he came back he just barely convinced Temari to spend the night in her own bed. Since Naoki was finally doing better the eldest sand sibling was persuaded to go and get at least a few hours of sleep before she returned to the hospital room. Kankuro smiled as he watched his sister leave and chuckle. "I swear I don't know who's more stubborn you or her." He said to Naoki's sleeping form. Leaning forward Kankuro didn't even notice when he fell asleep with his head on her bed, his right arm pillowed his head while he continued to hold on to Naoki with his left hand.

When Naoki woke up next it was morning again and she could tell that she had slept the whole day through. She almost shifted when she realized Kankuro had fallen asleep in the chair next to her with his head laying on her lap. His right arm had ended up spreading across her legs while his left hand still held hers. His hair was disheveled and Naoki could tell that he hadn't left her side in a while. She used her free left hand to stroke his hair while she cautiously propped herself up so she was partially in a seated position. Just as she had gotten herself comfortable a young male nurse burst into the room and woke him up. Naoki rolled her eyes with frustration and watched as Kankuro jerked up and rubbed his sleep filled eyes. Naoki squeezed his hand in reassurance and waited for the young nurse to start asking his questions. Naoki patiently put up with the obviously inexperienced medic for a few moments but once he was finished she politely asked him to leave. The kid was cute in a puppy sort of way but Kankuro thought he seemed all too happy to be in the room with Naoki only in a thin gown. "So," he started, turning to the green haired woman, "when do we get to break out?" Naoki laughed softly and rolled her eyes playfully. "And go where?" She asked leaning back tiredly into the pillows that supported her seated position. They both knew that she couldn't go to her place, there wasn't enough room for two people and that was what it would require for her. Even when she got out of the hospital Naoki had seen the after effects of the disease enough times to know that it would still take a while for her to regain her full strength. Until then she would need someone to stay with her so she didn't over work herself back into an illness. Naoki knew she was a lot of things but a fool wasn't one of them and if she had a relapse there was a good chance she wouldn't make it out alive. Just as she was about to doze off once more Kankuro spoke up. "We could go to my place." Naoki's eyes shot open, "You mean the Kazekage tower? I'm not sure-" Naoki stopped as Kankuro interrupted her. "No, I recently got an apartment considering recent events and I was hoping you would… maybe stay with me… at least until your better…" He tacked on; stopping himself from saying that he had really hoped that his new place would become their new place.

Naoki's mouth dropped open in shock. "You mean? Of course I'll stay!" She said as she smiled enthusiastically. Suddenly someone walked in and all but stomped over to the bed. "Daichisama, you're doing better I see." Naoki said as she looked over her mentor's condition with a clinical eye. "Dumbass, of course I'm doing fine." He grumbled, "But I see you got yourself put into the same boat I was in." Naoki blushed softly. Seeing her unease Kankuro tried to distract the grouchy head medic. "When can she leave?" He asked lightly. At that point getting Naoki back to his place sounded like the best idea to ever come across the planet but he had to convince the jounin that stood before him of that. Diachi raised an eyebrow and gave a scornful look to Kankuro. "Considering how serious her condition became and the fact that just yesterday did she completely stabilize and start to recover I would say she will have to stay here at least a week if not longer. "A week?" Naoki questioned. She knew she needed rest but that much? It seemed absurd that she would be in bed for a week and on sick leave longer than that. "But Daichisama…" She tried to argue. Daichi lightly head slapped her and glared at her. After a moment he softened his gaze. "Naoki I know how much it will exasperate you to not work for more than two weeks but you need to recover fully before you continue on with your everyday life. You can't afford to have a relapse and despite what you think, this hospital can run without you. Naoki nodded her head in defeat.