atom0001, this one is for you. ^__^ Happy late Christmas! XD
Warnings: Spoilers for Rescue Gaara arc (up to ch. 280)
Summary: Gaara's never really slept before, and he's not sure he knows how, but Temari is sure he'll manage.
Disclaimer: The Sandsibs and Naruto aren't mine. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaamn.
Gaara and Kankurou, Temari realised as they finally arrived home, were both exhausted, though they hadn’t said a word about it. She saw Gaara’s hands shaking, and heard Kankurou groan as he slung Karasu down off his back. They both needed something to eat and some rest, Gaara especially, so Temari herded them toward the kitchen, following closely behind. She put some water on to boil for tea, and then went to the fridge to see if there were any suitable leftovers.
“There’s some chicken teriyaki that’s still good in here, does that sound okay?” Temari asked with a glance over her shoulder. It was a bit of a shock to realise just how little time she and Kankurou had been gone, given all that had happened.
“It’s fine,” Gaara said wearily, and Kankurou nodded his agreement as he doodled half-heartedly on a napkin.
Taking the container out of the fridge, Temari paused to make the tea, and then popped the container into the microwave as she let the tea steep. She got dishes from the cupboard, chopsticks from the drawer, and then filled the teacups with hot tea. The microwave chimed as Temari plunked tea and chopsticks in front of her brothers. She served the food from the hot container with the ease of long practice, and gave them each a filled plate.
Temari sat down with her own meal as Kankurou murmured a quick thanks and began to eat. Gaara sat pushing his food around on his plate with his chopsticks, his tea also remaining untouched. Temari watched him closely as she ate, growing concerned as he continued to simply poke at his meal.
“Gaara,” she said earnestly, and he glanced up, his weary eyes meeting her own. “It’s going cold; eat while it’s still warm,” she continued in a softer tone.
“I’m not hungry.”
“Please. You need to eat something – you haven’t eaten since before you were captured.”
Kankurou looked up from his plate at the hint of desperation in Temari’s voice. “Come on, Gaara. Even just a little bit.”
Temari glanced sharply at Kankurou, then relaxed as she realised what he was doing. Apparently, she was even more tired than she’d realised.
Silently, Gaara started to pick at his food, eating bits here and there. After a few minutes, he stopped being selective and began to clean his plate. By the time he finished eating, Temari and Kankurou had both emptied their own plates and were quietly sipping their tea.
“Do either of you want anything else?” Temari asked.
Kankurou shook his head and drained his cup of tea. “No, I’m tired. I’m going to head to bed.”
He rose and put his dishes in the sink, and then clasped Gaara’s shoulder firmly. “I’m glad you’re all right; take it easy, okay?”
Gaara nodded, and Kankurou left the kitchen and went upstairs to his bedroom.
“Are you still hungry, Gaara?” Temari drank her last mouthful of tea.
“No, I’m fine, thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” she replied as she stood and took Gaara’s plate and her own to the sink and poured herself some more tea.
Sitting back down at the table, she studied Gaara closely as he sat with both his hands wrapped around his teacup. He was frighteningly pale, more so than she had ever seen him, and she could still see a faint trembling in his hands as he drank the last of his tea. When she’d finished her second cup, Temari took both of their empty cups to the sink.
Taking his elbow, she pulled him to his feet. With a hand placed gently on the small of his back, Temari guided him out of the kitchen and up the stairs to her bedroom, turning out the lights along the way. Gaara stopped in front of her closed bedroom door, shooting her a faintly questioning glance. Temari opened the door and nodded for him to enter. He did so, and stood awkwardly in the centre of the room.
Temari’s room was fairly simple; she had a large bed in one corner and a low writing desk covered with books and scrolls sat under the window in the opposite corner, a full bookcase next to it. Her dresser sat against the wall with the door, dark-stained wood a stark contrast to the sand-coloured wall. She’d laid a colourful throw rug next to her bed, though it was partially hidden under some laundry and more books.
“We’ll need to get you a bed tomorrow, but you can sleep with me tonight,” Temari said as she crossed to the window and opened it, letting a cool night time breeze into the somewhat stuffy room. “My bed is plenty big enough for us both.” She turned on the desk lamp, the soft glow suffusing the room. She had been in close quarters on missions with people she hardly knew too often to have any qualms about sharing a bed with her brother.
“Sleep?” Gaara was eyeing his sister, brow slightly furrowed as he tried to process what she had said.
She planted a hand on her hip and stared intently at her desk for a moment. “Shukaku is gone, so you can sleep now. You just came back from the dead; you’ve only got a minimal amount of chakra back. Your body needs rest to return to full strength.”
Gaara’s eyes widened slightly as the full extent of what had happened and its implications finally dawned on his tired mind. The Shukaku was well and truly gone. He was free of it, and he could sleep—really sleep, not use a jutsu to sleep while a demon took him over—without consequence. Sleeping was just as safe for him as it was for Temari or Kankurou or Naruto. He’d been slightly envious when he’d learned that Naruto, despite having the Kyuubi sealed inside him, had no problem sleeping.
Gaara swayed slightly as his weariness seemed to press down on him that much harder. He had wondered, on occasion, since the Chuunin exam and the invasion of Konoha and his defeat at Naruto’s hands, what it would be like to really sleep. No jutsu, no Shukaku eating away at his personality, just natural sleep....
“Gaara?” Temari’s worried voice snapped him out of his thoughts, and he realised that she had an arm gently wrapped around his shoulders.
“Sorry, Temari, I just—”
“Spaced out, yeah, I noticed. Geez, you’re exhausted. Come on.”
She pulled him over to her bed and sat him down, unfastening the sturdy leather harness that had carried his gourd and helped him slip the unwieldy thing off. Temari paused, and frowned, then crossed over to her dresser and started digging through the top drawer. After a minute she unearthed a pair of black shorts and a faded black tee shirt, then tossed them to Gaara.
“You can change into those, since you don’t really have anything of your own to sleep in.”
“Are these yours?”
Temari shook her head. “No, they’re Kankurou’s; you missed them last time you got bored and sorted laundry, and I haven’t given them back yet.”
Hooking her foot under what seemed to be some random pieces of clothing on the floor, she flicked them up into her hand.
“I’m going to run to the bathroom to change so you can get those on.”
Gaara nodded as she left, too tired to argue or do much but obey his sister’s instructions. By the time she was back, he had changed and was holding his clothes on his lap. Temari had to hide her amusement. The clothes that on Kankurou fit where they touched, making them practically indecent if he moved, swam on the much smaller Gaara. It was a good thing the shorts had a drawstring, and not an elastic waist.
“Just drop them on the floor,” she said with a nod at the clothes in Gaara’s hands, and threw her own into the corner of the room to land on top of a small pile of dirty clothes.
“Temari,” Gaara said, staring intently at the bundle in his hands, “I don’t know how to sleep.”
She closed the door partway and crossed the room, then plucked the balled up cloth from his hands and tossed it over her shoulder.
“Your body knows, Gaara; it’s always known. You just need to give it a chance to remember, and you’re so exhausted now that I don’t think it’ll be much of a problem.”
He nodded, though he still seemed hesitant, and lay down on the outside half of Temari’s bed. She smiled at him, the closed the window, turned off the lamp, and crawled into bed between Gaara and the wall. The bed was big enough that there was a fair amount of space between them. She pulled the light covers up and got comfortable on her back. Like most shinobi, she had developed the ability to sleep anywhere, but she’d prefer to be comfortable if she could. Gaara shifted next to her, pulling the covers up a little bit higher. Glancing over at him, she saw the light from outside reflecting on his half-open eyes.
“Close your eyes,” Temari said quietly, and though he didn’t respond verbally, she saw them shut.
Sound in the hallway alerted both of them, and they raised their heads from the bed as Kankurou came through the doorway.
“I couldn’t get to sleep,” he said somewhat gruffly, obviously embarrassed.
Temari saw his eyes flicker towards Gaara in the faint light, and understanding dawned. Scooting over closer to the wall, she gestured for Gaara to do the same.
“Come on, Kankurou. There’s enough room for one more.”
There were a few of minutes of shifting and rearranging of limbs before the three of them were situated fairly comfortably. Temari was close enough to Gaara that she was touching him, though barely, but she could feel the tension in his body. He would never get to sleep if he was wound up as tightly as a tripwire.
Gaara took a deep breath and let it out slowly, making a conscious effort to relax. It didn’t seem to help much. Temari couldn’t see his face, so she voiced her question instead.
“Are your eyes closed?”
Smiling slightly in the darkness, she began to quietly sing Toryanse, a traditional song that she had learned as a child. After a few bars, Kankurou joined in, the baritone to her own alto.
“It's the narrow pathway of the Tenjin shrine, please allow me to pass through. Those without good reason shall not pass to celebrate this child's 7th birthday....”
It was a song they both knew well, and she could feel Gaara relax further next to her with each repetition. She could hear his breathing deepening and evening out, until he finally relaxed entirely and succumbed to sleep. Temari and Kankurou finished that verse and then stopped singing, sharing a brief, pleased glance over the top of Gaara’s head where it lay on the pillow. Temari couldn’t resist the urge to look at Gaara – this would be the first time she had ever seen him sleep without being terrified of Shukaku.
It was amazing the difference that something like sleep, that most people took for granted, could have on Gaara’s expression. Gone was the tightly controlled look he wore during the day, the slight pursing of his lips that was almost always present. For the first time in Temari’s memory, he looked truly relaxed. He had opened up a great deal emotionally after his fight with Naruto, though it had taken time, but he had never been able to be completely free with himself. Part of it, she knew, had been because of the control he had to exert over Shukaku and his impulses, but it had always bothered her that he wasn’t able to be entirely open, should he have wanted to be.
Temari smiled slightly as she realised that Kankurou had already fallen asleep, and then closed her eyes after one last look at Gaara’s face. She knew she would remember it for a long time to come.
Temari woke in the morning to feel a warm weight against her shoulder. When she looked, she was surprised and slightly amused to discover Gaara’s head resting against her shoulder. Further survey found that she had hooked one of her legs over his, and that Kankurou had an arm on top of the covers and slung across Gaara’s abdomen, the other folded up so his hand could pillow an unpainted cheek. Perfectly comfortable, Temari smiled faintly, content to just lay there in a doze until her brothers woke up.
It wasn’t long before Gaara stirred against her shoulder, lifting his head and sitting up, slipping his leg out from under Temari’s and blinking owlishly at Kankurou’s arm. With Gaara moving, Temari couldn’t lie still any longer, and she sat up as Kankurou lifted his hand and rubbed at his eyes. He nearly fell out of the bed as he, too, sat up, much to her amusement, but he managed to stay on the mattress.
“How do you feel, Gaara?” Temari asked as she straightened her legs out and stretched a little.
“Better. A significant portion of my chakra has been restored.”
“Good. How about you, Kankurou?”
Kankurou shrugged, broad shoulders pulling the old tee shirt tight. “I’m fine.”
The thread of conversation was interrupted as Gaara and Kankurou’s stomachs both growled audibly.
“Let’s go have some breakfast,” Temari said, not bothering to hide her amusement. “Your stomachs think that your throats have been cut.”
With a wicked smirk, Kankurou hopped off the bed and sped to the bedroom door. Apparently he was feeling considerably more energetic than he had the night before.
“Race you down, Temari!”
“Hey, you bastard! No fair cheating!” she shouted as she scrambled after him.
Gaara smiled softly to himself and followed his siblings down to the kitchen. The sounds of arguing and Temari throwing what was probably a chair at Kankurou floated up to him as he reached the top of the stairs.
It was good to be home.
So, there you go, atom0001. I hope you liked it!
If anyone is curious about the song, it's a traditional Japanese children's song called "Toryanse", and I've posted the complete lyrics below, along with the translation taken from Wiki. It goes with a game that's played pretty much exactly like "London Bridge". There's a Wikipedia article on the song HERE, and there's a Quicktime-format video of the game (with song) on THIS PAGE, located at at the bottom for the more curious.
Koko wa doko no hosomichi ja?
Tenjin-sama no hosomichi ja
Chitto tōshite kudashanse
Goyō no nai mono tōshasenu
Kono ko no nanatsu no oiwai ni
O-fuda wo osame ni mairimasu
Iki wa yoi yoi, kaeri wa kowai
Kowai nagara mo
Let me pass, let me pass
What is this narrow pathway here?
It's the narrow pathway of the Tenjin shrine
Please allow me to pass through
Those without good reason shall not pass
To celebrate this child's 7th birthday
I've come to dedicate my offering
Going in may be fine, may be fine but returning would be scary
It's scary but
Let me pass, let me pass