6/7/08

Disclaimer: the characters in this fic such as Kankuro, Gaara, Matsuri, etc. don't belong to me, although if they did, then we would get to see a lot more sibling interaction between Gaara, Kankuro, and Temari. Particularly humorous scenes.

Dedication: God, my parents, my fans, Masashi Kishimoto for creating the Naruto series and giving us these colorful characters, and especially to my beloved friends, especially Zero-Nightmare, Musashi Sanada, Francisco, Ariescelestial, Kzdatgurl, T. A. Raskelt, Ashley-san, emocloud, Caitlin, and all of you other wonderful readers!

Special dedication to: Ariescelestial, for giving me this idea that has been festering in my mind for so long that I just had to write it… this one is all yours, my dear!

Naruto: Expectation Of Privacy

By Tiger5913

Squeak, squeak. Squeak, squeak.

With a groggy snort, the sleepy puppeteer creaked his eyes open and glanced around the room, forgetting where he was for a moment, until he finally realized he had fallen asleep in front of the television while watching… some program. A yawn slipped free from him as he languidly sat up, blindly groping around the couch for the remote to click off the power, and then with a quick glance at the clock hanging on the wall, he saw the hour – it wasn't too late, but he definitely felt like turning in. Unfolding his long legs, Kankuro stretched out his dormant muscles and released another drowsy yawn as he lazily reached over to scratch a mild itch on the back of his head, over the snazzy black hood that he constantly wore. Briefly smacking his lips together in a reflexive gesture of lethargy, he rolled his shoulders several times, and then leisurely began walking out of the living room, heading toward the hallway where his bedroom was located, two doors away from his younger brother.

As he passed by his sibling's room, the puppeteer noticed with little interest that the door was closed, but the light peeking out from underneath indicated that Gaara was still awake – not surprisingly – though at least he didn't have to work the next day. The kid was only sixteen, but he had a lot of responsibilities, being the Kazekage of the Hidden Sand Village and all, and sometimes, he worked such long and late hours that it really, truly stunned Kankuro to see this level of devotion and responsibility. At their older sister's command, the puppeteer would try to convince Gaara to get to sleep if it was nearing midnight, and a weary grin creased his lips at the notion as he wondered when he would need to do that again, upon thinking about the present situation. But ever since Gaara had started dating the mousy little brunette that used to be just his student, he seemed to have loosened up a bit, and finally began to take some leisure time for himself instead of always chaining his butt to his desk in the Kazekage office.

Although come to think of it, didn't Gaara say something about going out with her earlier that night? The puppeteer didn't actually remember seeing the redhead leave or return, but he shrugged aimlessly, figuring his brother had probably come home while he was asleep – that Body Flicker Technique was pretty quiet.

Squeak, squeak. Squeak, squeak.

Vaguely remembering that noise a short while ago, Kankuro quirked a brow in curiosity – Gaara wasn't exactly the playful type that would jump around on his bed for the hell of it – and then he retracted his steps back to the door, raising one fist to knock on it.

Before his knuckles came into contact with the tall wooden structure, the tall Jonin heard a familiar feminine voice piping up, "You have a nice bed, Gaara. It feels really comfortable."

That statement made the puppeteer stop immediately, and he stared at the door with a peculiar look on his face, feeling somewhat surprised that his brother had brought Matsuri back to the house with him at this time of night. Huh… Guess their date isn't over yet.

"Really. Do you think so?" Gaara replied quietly, his deep voice sounding calm and cool as usual, of course, even though there seemed to be just a twinge of interest in regards to her observation.

"Mmmhmm." A couple more squeaks sounded just then, causing Kankuro to wonder if Matsuri was the one bouncing around on his younger sibling's bed… But she sure as hell wasn't a kid, nor did she ever act like one, so what would she want to do that for?

"Matsuri. If you really want me to do this, you'll need to lie down and stay still. I will have much better control that way."

…Huh? Kankuro blinked in bewilderment at suddenly hearing that firmly-spoken command, sounding very strange out of context, and naturally, he wanted to know what was going on inside; too bad he didn't have the unique Third Eye ability that his brother possessed…

Brief shuffling noises, and then, "Is this okay, Gaara?"

The answer was quick and concise, "Yes."

Silence ensued for some time, with just a very quiet sliding sound that the puppeteer was unable to identify for certain, and he scratched his head awkwardly while trying to decide whether or not he should leave, because the situation was so ambiguous that he didn't feel sure about his initial assessment…

"G-Gaara…" came the breathless, quivering gasp all of a sudden.

Screw that idea; he was definitely staying. He had to figure out what they were doing, because if it was something big, then as the older brother, he had the responsibility of making sure Gaara could handle the situation… and not to mention Kankuro would likely have to rib on him, if the opportunity presented itself.

"Matsuri… Are you all right?" By the detectable edge of tension in his tone, Gaara sounded worried.

"I-I'm fine, really…" her words were murmured softly and fairly difficult to pick up; "Um… It's just that, this hurts a little…"

Hearing that, his dumbfounded gaze focused on the closed door with evident shock as his mind was trying to create all different kinds of scenarios in which his kid brother would be hurting his girlfriend, and why the hell she'd actually want to receive pain from him willingly. …No way.

"Your face is pale, and you keep trembling. I'm not going through with this if you feel afraid or anxious. …I don't like causing you pain."

"Gaara… I want this, and I'll get used to it. I'm nervous because it's the first time for me, that's all…" she insisted with an edge of firmness underlying her usual gentle voice.

Wait, what…?! Kankuro was definitely beyond suspicious at this point, and after he recovered from his initial shock, he leaned forward to press his ear right up against the wooden barrier while curiosity roared through him, keeping his feet firmly planted to the carpet floor. According to the information they were given by their youngest sibling, he and Temari knew that the two had been in a relationship for a while before either one of them even bothered to tell anyone, although they did not disclose the exact length of time. The wind mistress showed sincere happiness at hearing the unexpected news, but after giving Gaara a congratulatory hug, she proceeded to scold him for having a secret, hiding the fact that he had a girlfriend from his own family, to which he immediately grew apologetic. It didn't really bother Kankuro all that much, since he thought Temari could be too damn nosy sometimes, and more importantly, it was about time Gaara finally started dating, even if the kid preferred to stick with just one girl instead of playing the field a little, which was fun on occasion, depending on the available options.

But that announcement from the young couple took place just a month ago, and while Kankuro himself didn't have too many inhibitions about what he liked to do with his own girlfriends, he seriously doubted his brother held a similar mindset… so was he wrong?

"I… have never done this with another person, Matsuri."

What the hell-is this for real? Damn, just last week Gaara was siding with Temari when she was complained about me going too fast with girls…! But now he goes and does this with Matsuri and that's no big deal?! Bull… I'm gonna ream him out for this! The puppeteer scowled at the memory of his sister's most recently scolding – honestly, she acted like she was his mother sometimes – and wondered how she would react to the knowledge of Gaara being alone in his room, and with his girlfriend this late at night to boot… Whatever her mood happened to be, she would most likely either reprimand their baby brother very, very firmly, or if she didn't want to show any leniency at all, she might even smack him upside the head… well, assuming she was fast enough to get past the sand. It was no secret that some of the arguments between Kankuro and Temari had turned physical, albeit fortunately, they were always aware of their limits, but neither one of them had ever fought with Gaara in that same questionably-playful way, since they didn't know how he would react.

Well, maybe Temari would finally test that boundary if she found out what was going on tonight, but then again, she wasn't expected back from her mission for at least another day, and Kankuro really did not feel like being a damn stool pigeon on something of this particular subject.

"Don't worry, Gaara… I trust you… and, um, I know the pain will go away." Despite her timid tone, Matsuri sounded pretty courageous and strong, like she really believed in what she was saying, and her steadfast confidence caused a small grin of approval to form over his puppeteer's face.

…Heh. She's good for Gaara.

But his kid brother, on the other hand, was obviously feeling the opposite way and doubting himself yet again, when he remarked just then with a great deal of alarm underlying his words, "Matsuri, you… I think you're bleeding too much. I must stop now."

"No, keep going… please… We're already in the middle, so let's just finish it."

It was getting way too personal for the intrusive listener, and after grimacing uneasily, he decided he'd definitely had enough and wanted to leave now, feeling extremely awkward with the knowledge of standing right outside the room while his younger brother and Matsuri were…

He made a beeline for his own quarters a split second later, but not before catching a soft moan being uttered that was also accompanied with a breathy and emotion-filled, "G-Gaara…"

When Kankuro was safely in his room with the door shut and securely locked, he visibly shuddered and fervently shook his head to prevent letting any unwanted images enter his mind and traumatize him, or else he sure as hell would not be able to go to sleep that night. Shit… I really don't wanna know what they're doing-!

And while the puppeteer was doing all he could to distract himself until he was tired enough to swiftly dive into the land of slumber, Gaara had his full attention intensely focused on the young brunette as he worked to complete his task with careful and tedious precision. Although he had honestly expected it, the sight of her blood still alarmed him greatly, and guilt lingered in his eyes as clear evidence of the way he felt was plastered all over his face, and then even further exemplified by the visible tension in his muscles. As her slender form remained motionless underneath his vigilant concentration, Matsuri glanced up at her boyfriend with complete trust, but despite her faith and belief, she could not prevent herself from wincing in pain as she consciously allowed him to tear into her skin, leaving his mark upon her. She had never partaken in this activity before, and there was no pressure whatsoever from Gaara to make his claim on her at this magnitude of an impact, but she truly wanted to go through with it because of how strongly she felt toward the redhead, and finally managed to convince him.

"Um… are you almost done…?" The girl asked shyly as she tipped her head down to survey the process, not knowing that he had already finished, even though he suddenly went still and was just merely looking for a short while.

"Yes." Gaara informed her mildly. "But you are still bleeding, Matsuri. I'm sorry for bringing you pain…"

"Oh, it didn't hurt that bad," she insisted with an assuring smile, even though she did worry a little bit about leaving a wound open for any length of time – really, the last thing she needed was an infection to get into her body and wreck havoc – so she needed to take care of that first. "I'll be all right. I just need to clean the blood off…"

To think that Matsuri had willingly bore pain so they could strengthen their relationship even more… she had been this selfless several times before, but every single instance truly astonished him, and especially regarding the current situation. He had shared many pleasures with his girlfriend, which always brought them closer together, but he believed that he needed to try and take her pain away if he could; unfortunately, it was impossible for him to feel that stinging sensation in her place. So just as the young brunette was about to rise from her position, Gaara raised a hand to grasp her forearm, impeding her progress by gently pressing her back down into the mattress as his head descended toward her chest, his pale turquoise eyes sternly fixated upon the area of dark red liquid. Nearing it, he parted his lips and extended his tongue to slowly run over the wound, feeling Matsuri jolt slightly at his action, and then she released a soft gasp as he licked up her blood, his wet muscle repeatedly soothing her tender skin until all traces of the crimson essence was gone.

Her dark eyes were widened in evident surprise when Gaara eventually lifted his head and casually glanced her way to check her status, but her reaction caused him to inquire, "What is it? Do you still feel pain?"

"N-no…" she mumbled while ducking a bit to hide the pink on her cheeks – not that he had never been so close to her before, but to clean her blood off using his tongue… this was definitely a new aspect, one that she really wasn't sure how to react to, just yet. "Thank you…"

He calmly nodded to acknowledge her gratitude, although he was uncertain as to why she wanted to thank him when he believed he should be doing so instead, and yet he felt somewhat assured by the small smile on her expression, returning the gesture with a sliver of tenderness. Matsuri…

She reached for his hand and squeezed it gently before uttering, "I want to see what it looks like…"

"All right." Gaara agreed in a quiet tone, wanting to know what she thought of his work, and then together, the two stood up to walk over to the small bathroom connected to his quarters, entering it to use the mirror inside, the light immediately brightening the vicinity.

Blushing at her own reflection, Matsuri initially raised both arms to cover her naked chest, which brought a look of mild amusement from her observing boyfriend, but then she gradually lowered the hand shielding her left breast to see the newly-imprinted item. There, neatly centered on the upper portion of her smooth mound, was a red tattoo of the "love" character, and it looked exactly like the one on his forehead… the accurate replication made her smile in fondness and satisfaction, as this was most definitely worth the brief period of pain. After Gaara told her reason why he had embedded the agonizing reminder into his own skin so many years ago, she frowned at hearing about the incident of excruciating betrayal that sent a young boy into the bowels of bleak solitude, making him hell-bent on causing destruction. His changing behavior showed that the bonds between him and his older siblings had restored some of his faith in familial love, but he was still rather wary about trusting and being close with other people, which meant it would take more time and positive circumstances before those insecurities could start ebbing away, slowly.

Standing right behind her, Gaara was staring at the tattoo without any shame or inhibition, and although he still felt awed that she had asked him to do this, he silently admitted it was nothing short of amazing to bind them so concretely to each other this way. We will both have these tattoos until the end of time…

Of course, he made sure Matsuri understood the mark was irreversible when she initially requested it, and he truly believed that she loved him, had faith in the strength of their relationship, but her persistence wore down his concerns and weak protests rather easily, because he could hardly deny her anything that she wanted.

The slender brunette stayed silent for so long that it caused him to wonder if she was displeased with the tattoo after all, when it was too late for her to change her mind now, but she spoke up just then and eased his worries, "Gaara, this… this looks perfect."

…Really. He was admittedly a little surprised to hear her say that, but he could detect sincerity in her voice, and he certainly liked how the symbolic gesture of love had turned out, while the underlying significance of it being so close to her heart did not elude his attention either.

"Don't you like it…?" Matsuri asked him lightly and her dark eyes sought his lighter pair expectantly, as though she wanted his approval of the matter, even with his involvement.

"Of course." The redhead told her without hesitation, nodding a bit to add more emphasis to his assurance, his gaze never wavering from the sight.

Truthfully, the young brunette did not understand the significance of the way he had tended to her wound and thought it was a little strange – albeit romantic in a way – because it seemed as though maybe he actually wanted to taste her blood, and yet there were no worries in her mind because she trusted him.

Still, she felt curious enough to inquire about it, but when she opened her mouth to voice the question, a yawn slipped out instead.

Seeing her tired expression, Gaara instructed in his usual authoritative way, "You should rest, Matsuri. I will walk you home."

"Okay," she agreed with a sleepy smile that hinted at her weariness, and yet she couldn't help sneaking one last long look before leaving.

They went back into his room, where Matsuri redressed herself, and then the two left the house together, walking toward her home under the dark night sky, to which the young Kazekage welcomed, for it meant less attention and speculation from the other villagers.

Upon arriving at her front door, Gaara slanted a look of curiosity and concern toward his girlfriend as he wondered whether or not her wound was still aching, and he didn't want to bring up the reminder of pain, but felt relieved that at least it had stopped bleeding. Enduring pain for the sake of love… Hmm… this is a new concept to me.

"Um… good night, Gaara," the girl murmured softly after a long moment of silence passed between them, and then because no one was around in the streets at this late hour, she was comfortable enough to step forward and embrace the lean redhead, holding him with endearing affection.

There was just a second of hesitation before he returned the gesture, drawing close to her ear as he quietly uttered his farewell, and when they parted so she could enter her house, his pale turquoise eyes watched intently until she disappeared from sight; with a mild sigh, he left the vicinity, feeling strangely reluctant to depart. …Ridiculous. I will see her tomorrow…

Back in his home, Gaara fell asleep that night with the vivid mental image of the "love" tattoo on her breast, and thought how truly ironic it was that long ago, he had carved the character onto his forehead to enforce a selfish notion… and yet now, this unique attribute was shared between himself and his girlfriend as visible proof of their ties to each other.

Despite what he thought he had witnessed, Kankuro still managed to get a good amount of snooze time, and as usual, ending up awakening even later than the redhead; after going through his morning hygiene routine, he slowly trudged down the hallway and went into the kitchen.

"Hey," the tall puppeteer mumbled groggily to his brother as he slunk over to the stove and lifted the lid of the pot, peering inside to find steaming white porridge – healthy food again, go figure – and there was a brief grimace that flickered over his expression at the discovery. Eh… I guess it's better than nothing.

"Good morning, Kankuro." Gaara greeted his older sibling properly; he was eating at the dining table already.

"'Morning," he returned dutifully while continuing to stare down for a moment longer,and he was willing to bet that Temari taught their kid brother how to make this bland stuff, since he had been the one who expressed the slightest bit of interest in learning new things, but damn, couldn't she at least have told him how to add a little seasoning so it had some flavor?

Though it was likely if he voiced any complaints on the subject, Gaara would ask to be taught how he could improve – and Kankuro was hardly the cooking type, preferring to go for take-out when he was by himself – so with an awkward scratch to the back of his head, he idly grabbed a bowl of the stuff and took a seat across from the redhead.

He noticed with interest that Gaara didn't look tired, but seemed somewhat distracted about a subject, to which Kankuro attributed to the aftermath of having a memorable and important experience, and being reminded of the previous night, he inquired casually, "So where's Matsuri?"

This earned him a curious look. "She is at her house. Where else would she be?"

The puppeteer grinned as he expressed his approval, "Heh, that's cool. Pretty slick."

"Hmm?" Bewildered by the unexpected praise, especially given the context of their conversation, Gaara glanced at his still-fatigued brother and blinked slowly, just once, in response, before attempting to clarify, "What do you mean?"

Kankuro shrugged aimlessly while assuring, "Look, Gaara, whatever you guys wanna do is your business, and I won't tell Temari, okay? But do me a favor – go to her house next time."

A frown of mild confusion formed over his expression at this odd request, but then again, it was pretty early in the morning, which made Kankuro a little more liable to spout a few strange things that sometimes didn't make sense, and the redhead truly found it easier to just comply rather than brood and ponder over the words. "…All right."

There was a grin of masculine pride on his face when it seemed like his little brother actually understood the current topic of discussion, and his last words of advice before starting to eat were, "Oh, and uh, if you need any tips on technique or whatever, there's some manuals you can get at the bookstore. But you probably don't wanna buy them by yourself, so you should take Matsuri with you."

Those remarks just made Gaara feel even more baffled, and now he was truly curious to find out what kind of books he should be reading that would apparently enlighten him on improving his techniques… that was likely a reference to his ninja skills, although he wondered why he would need to take his girlfriend along for this reasonable purchase. …Hmm. I don't understand. Well, perhaps I could ask Matsuri…

Such were the joys of miscommunication.

The End

Author's Note: Teehee, I've had this story circulating in my head ever since my good buddy Ariescelestial told me her idea of Gaara giving Matsuri a tattoo, and I suppose one would think this should be a completely serious concept, right? So I'm not too sure where the humorous part came from… maybe because I wanted to traumatize Kankuro just a little bit or something… but I hope it didn't diminish the main focus of love and devotion between Gaara and Matsuri!

Erm, as I truly think I suck with writing humorous material, I'd like to ask you dear readers to please let me know how I did on this story… Good or bad, I can't wait to hear your feedback!

With love for my fans,

Tiger5913