Cover Image: "Gaara" by sh3rryb3ar on Deviantart. Used with permission.
Author notes:This is a short story I wrote a while ago, yep more Gaara stuff. I thought it turned out pretty good. Please leave comments and tell me what you think of it.
Merry Christmas everyone.
"What is it Gaara?" Temari was crouched on her feet, fan in hand in less then two seconds from her brother's outcry.
"Nothing." Gaara breathed, sitting against the wall beside her.
"You cried out." She could barely see him in the darkness. Kankuro mumbled something intelligible, but even though he was half asleep, he too had risen quickly to the sound. Gaara frowned in the darkness, "It's nothing. Go to sleep," he commanded.
Kankuro blinked once, glanced at his siblings, then lay back down, pulling his blanket tightly around him against the chill air. Temari lay back. She felt Gaara move slightly nearby. "Are you warm enough?" She whispered. Using the sort of soft voice that she only used in private with her brothers.
"Yes. Go to sleep."
Temari frowned, but rolled over and shut her eyes. This hadn't been the only time she had heard her youngest brother cry out in the night. It frightened her. Not out of fear of him, but of fear for him, fear of the demon. However, since the Akatsuki. . .Gaara's death. . . Shukaku was no more then a bad dream, a memory now. So what was it that disturbed her brother in the night?
Temari awoke. She sat up this time, again reaching for her weapon. The room was silent. "You're shivering Gaara." She said, gesturing Kankuro to lay back down. Temari stood, walking silently in her bare feet to the closet of the small inn they were staying at, and bringing back a large pile of blankets. She threw one over Kankuro, who wouldn't care if he froze to death, he'd just sleep right through it.
In truth he and Temari where both spoiled. For as long as they went on missions with Gaara, he kept watch for them at night. Now they had a whole selection of Samuri from the land of Iron, guiding them towards the hidden meeting of the Kage. There was nothing to fear. They could sleep. She knelt in front of Gaara and unfolded the blanket, wrapping it around his shoulders. He stared at her blankly, his eyes narrowing slightly in a look of minor dismay and annoyance.
"We're not used to the snow and cold Gaara. You can get sick."
"Well I'm not only your bodyguard, I'm your sister. I outrank you. So there." she said, wrapping another blanket across his shoulders, he moved slightly and pushed the warping under his back against the cold wall.
"There. Better?" She asked. She kept her voice at a low whisper, knowing that it would do no good for their allies to hear such familiarities towards the Kazekage who was still known by many as the Demon of the Desert. However, there wasn't a demon now, just her little brother.
"Thank you," he whispered.
She sat back and looked at him, then, in a way that was unfamiliar to both of them, she lay the back of her hand against his forehead. His skin tensed slightly under her cold touch, but he didn't move, in truth, she was the one that moved away quickly. "You feel hot Gaara."
"Actually I feel cold." he said.
She pressed her hand to his face again, shaking her head. "I think you're getting sick. That won't do."
She pulled her hand back again and shook her head. "Even you can get sick."
He shook his head slightly in return. "No. Shukaku kept me from getting sick."
Her brows creased. "So. . . without the demon, and with the cold weather. . . " She swore quietly, "You need to lay down and rest. The last thing we need is you getting sick. Come on." She pulled the third sleeping mat across the floor, causing Kankuro to toss a little in his sleep.
"Lay down." she commanded.
Gaara stared at her. Then mutely shook his head. When she glared, he shook his head harder. "No."
She frowned at him. "Look, you can't help anyone if you get sick. What about the village? The Akatsuki. They're still after Naruto and the rest." She knew she'd hit a sore spot there. She tried her best to lower her voice to be more calming. "They're going to have trouble listening to you as it is, being so young compared to the rest of them. We don't need you sick as well."
He stared at the bedding like it was going to attack him, then turned his back towards her. "It's not that Temari. . . I'll stay awake. Go back to sleep."
There was a moment of cold silence. Then she walked over and sat next to him. "Gaara?" She asked quietly. He shifted a little to let her know he had heard her.
"This is the third time tonight you woke us up. And not just tonight. . . but I heard you last night too. You gasp a bit, sometimes it almost sounds like a scream."
He shifted uncomfortably. She set a hand on his arm, twirling a bit of fabric from the blanket in her fingers. "What's the matter?"
He didn't answer right away, and when he did it was in the familiar low monotone voice reserved for quiet conversations, only with his siblings. "I keep falling asleep."
Temari jerked her hand away in surprise.
Gaara turned, the look of pain across his pale features nearly making her heart break. She took his arm again, grasping his hand tightly. "Sleep?"
He nodded. "I'm sorry. I will try and be more quiet."
"But Gaara. . . without Shukaku. . ." She smiled tentatively. "Sleep would be the very best thing for you. I forgot that, but now that Shukaku is gone, you should sleep, especially if you're sick."
He shook his head, but even then his dark lids shut tiredly, opening again quickly. He looked at her with those deep green eyes, eyes that had frightened her her whole life, now they were the beautiful windows into her brother's soul. He looked scared.
"I can sleep now yes." he said. "But. . ." his voice died off as he clutched the blankets around him tighter, and looked down at his feet. "I even tried. . .about a month ago. . . I almost fell asleep in my office one night."
"It didn't last long, I really couldn't do it properly, I don't really know how to."
"It's pretty simple." Temari said.
"That's not the problem. I know for certain I could sleep now. I'm tired, My body's tired, my mind's tired. Before. . .I would just rest. That was how I kept going without sleep. I found ways to rest without actually loosing conscience. Sometimes, I'd even let myself come very close to sleeping but now. . . every time I try. . . I just feel so tired that I actually . . . do it."
". . .It's alright Gaara." Temari said. "Let yourself sleep. I don't see much of a problem. Your body's just trying to tell you that. Maybe that's even part of the reason why you're getting ill."
"I can't. . .every time I do I know for certain, Shukaku will escape. That he'll kill you, Kankuro, the others, he'll destroy Suna, and destroy me." He let out a breath, shivering slightly. "I know that's not true now but. . .so long, knowing that, telling myself that, coming so close. Every time I fall asleep I can see it happening. And I wake up, afraid that it's real" His voice died off.
Temari leaned closer to her brother, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and pulling him close until the sides of their heads met. "I'm sorry you can't sleep Gaara." She whispered, biting her lip, and glancing towords the window. Snow fel outside, so different from the desert. "I guess I never really thanked you."
"For never sleeping. I love my sleep, at home at least. It's so peaceful, but that's only because you were always awake to protect us." She could feel his warm breath near her cheek, feel the fevered heat of his skin, the dampness of his hair.
"It's my turn" She whispered, pulling the blanket to his chin. "You go to sleep now Gaara. I'll stay awake. I'll watch. If anything happens I'll wake you up."
She could feel him frown.
"Please Gaara." She whispered. "I don't want you sick. And. . . I want you to sleep. Just try?"
"One more time. I'm here. I'll make sure nothing happens."
His eyes fell shut as she rubbed his arm gently. He breathed out once, then jerked away, staring at her with wide eyes. She shook her head and gently pushed his head back to her shoulder, He was still slightly shorter then she, just barely. She rested her head against his hair, breathing deeply and evenly until their breathing matched. Then she stayed awake the whole night as her brother fell asleep.
She did as she said, she watched him. It was the most peaceful thing she had ever seen; The way his dark eyes shut, the way his forehead creased slightly, then relaxed; and the way his mouth formed a small open shape as he breathed. She gently brushed his hair back, raising her chin and glancing over Gaara's head to where Kankuro slept. She smiled, but did not laugh. There was no way she would disturb Gaara's sleep, there was no way she'd let anyone disturb either of her brothers. She'd guard them against the world if she had too. She shut her eyes laying her head against Gaara's,."I love you," She whispered, "Good night."