A/N: ceryna was bored. So ceryna asked people for challenges, and people gave them to her. And when she wrote the Gaara/Lee one I asked for I nearly died of joy and got all inspired. So that is why THIS Gaara/Lee one exists. ^__^

Set before Lee meets Tsunade and after Naruto fights Gaara: spoilers for the chuunin exam and up. Kind of a sketchy piece and not much more than a drabble, but I'm rather pleased with it.

*

*

"Sand In Your Mouth"

*

*

Lee can smell blood. It's not unexpected. Some of it is his. But only some.

Gaara is on the end of his bed.

"Hi," he says, because what else do you say to the person who has stolen your future?

"You cut me once . . ." Gaara observes vaguely, putting a hand to the remembered spot. "It hurt."

"Sorry," Lee answers automatically.

Gaara stares at him. ". . . what?" he asks in an odd voice. "You're sorry . . . for hurting me in a fight?"

"Um, yes?" Lee hazards, mentally promising himself a thousand laps around Hell as punishment should he get himself killed like this.

Gaara keeps staring.

" . . . how did you get in here?" Lee asks finally. The other just shrugs.

Somehow, Lee feels like he should be more scared. More worried. More SOMEthing besides curious, anyway.

Gaara leans forward a bit. A little sand swirls around his wrists. "Don't move," he says. "Or I won't be responsible for what it does."

"Wait-!" Lee tries to say, but Gaara is already practically on top of him, peering critically at his face and hands and everything he can see. Lee freezes- he knows very well that Gaara's sand is an automatic defense, and he does not want to provoke it again when he knows the damage that it can do. He still remembers the Desert Coffin with disturbing nightmare clarity.

He has absolutely never been anywhere near this close to the other, though.

Lee doesn't exactly hold a grudge against Gaara- it was just a fight. Nothing personal. They both knocked each other around. Of course, that doesn't mean that he exactly likes him either. And having a person who's tried to kill you hovering over you curiously and inspecting you from head to toe is not the most pleasant experience in the world.

"That Naruto . . ." Gaara begins slowly, eyes following the path of a vein in Lee's neck. "That Naruto, he . . ." Lee suddenly gets a familiar tingling in the back of his mind.

Something is different, he realizes belatedly. Something in Gaara's eyes is a little less angry, a little less empty.

Lee remembers the way that Neji has looked since the third test, and understands.

Naruto keeps changing things on people. As soon as they're resigned to whatever life they're in, the guy shows up and starts spouting nonsense and making stupid promises that he can't fulfill- and then the "nonsense" starts making perfect sense and the promises get fulfilled and everything gets turned on its ass for the millionth time since meeting the idiot.

Lee's starting to think that there might be something to that whole "Hokage" thing after all.

"That Naruto beat you, right?" Lee says. "He beat you, and he said something, and now you can't stop thinking about it . . ."

"He does this often, then?" Gaara looks a little irritated.

"Only all the time," Lee sighs. "He hates it when people don't have the proper respect for certain things- like other people or life or their duties as shinobi." He smiles a little. "And he's not one to believe in fate or lie down and take what the world throws at him."

"I noticed," Gaara says ruefully. Then he puts his hand on Lee's shoulder and Lee hisses in pain, barely resisting the urge to lash out in defense. Gaara doesn't pull back. "It hurts there?"

"Hurts everywhere," Lee mutters.

"Except your mouth, apparently," Gaara replies dryly.

"Yeah, except that." Lee grins a bit. The grin dies, though, as Gaara lifts his hand to run his thumb over the lips it is on.

"I don't touch people much," Gaara remarks after a moment, still gently tracing Lee's lips. "You a few times, and Yashamaru and my siblings once or twice, and that Naruto hit me . . . but that's really about it. Usually I just use the sand. Usually it's also in a fight," he adds another moment later.

"Oh," Lee says in a quiet voice. Gaara's fingers are a bit grainy where they touch him. He already knows that the sheets are going to be full of sand when the other leaves.

Gaara's sand.

"I think you're still the only one who's ever really made me bleed," Gaara murmurs.

Lee is trying not to breathe. Gaara's fingers aren't stopping. It's kind of like a kiss, only not really at all. Lee licks his lips nervously and accidentally catches Gaara's thumb. Sand in his mouth, gritty and unpleasantly rough.

Gaara's strange eyes never leave his face.

*

*

* fin *

*

*

. : i only bleed for you : .