A/N: Chapter Four has been tweaked a little. I figured out what I didn't like about that chapter, and that was the lack of angst during/after the lemon. It's still not where I want, but for now, it'll do. If you're too lazy to go back and read the minor changes, here's the gist:
"Neji, a grown man of 23, a man who wasn't even scared of Hyuuga Hiashi, found that what he feared most at that moment, was intimacy. Giving in to his need to be touched, to be loved, was more than he could handle."
…Which explains why Gaara got some, but he didn't.
Oh, and as a warning, Gaara's lil dream may be a little disturbing for some people…
The sound of keys jangling echoed through the mansion. He listened to the silence that followed, trying to locate his mother within the house. He dreaded seeing the false smile that she would give him, the useless disguise that did little to hide her true loneliness. He hated seeing the signs of her tears, her nose slightly red from sniffles.
Although she cared for him the way a mother should, it seemed that he was never enough. She craved tenderness from his father, the respect that she deserved but didn't receive. Despite Gaara's efforts to show that she didn't need Keiji, her need to be loved by her husband shadowed her love for her son.
Quickly toeing off his shoes, Gaara strolled through the parlor, knowing he wouldn't find his mother there, and entered into the kitchen. Mashed potatoes were on the stove, steamed vegetables already on a platter, the only thing left were the steaks that still needed to be grilled.
'Must be a special night…'
Not finding his mother in the kitchen, he continued on to the dining room which extended into the living room. He paused, looking quizzically at the blank TV. It was odd that his mother hadn't greeted him yet.
He took the steps slowly up the curving staircase, hand barely brushing the railing as he made his way to the second landing. He looked briefly into his own room, just to make sure, and moved toward the master bedroom at the end of the hall.
He swung open the double doors to the his parents' bedroom, glancing first at the king-sized bed that greeted him, then at the chaise in the corner of the room, and finally at the vanity to his left where he'd often found is mother hastily wiping away her tears.
He furrowed his eyebrows, and it was then that he heard it, the sound of water dripping.
He made his way past the vanity and toward the master bathroom, each step accompanied by its own droplet of water.
Finally reaching the bathroom, he quickly took in the sight before him and froze.
His mother lay beneath the water, her dark hair floating around her head, covering her face. Her right arm was outstretched awkwardly over one side where a wine glass had fallen and shattered on the tiled floor. The red wine had splattered against the tub, and now stood out blood red against the white décor of the bathroom.
He swallowed hard. His eyes flitted over to the marble counter, an array of pills spilling from his mother's bottle of anti-depressants.
He took one step forward.
He couldn't go any further. There was glass. And his mom was naked. It was indecent for him to see his mother naked.
His mind screamed that maybe she wasn't dead, or, if he moved fast enough, he could get an ambulance here in time to save her. It was with this thought in mind that he turned around, skidded on the slippery floor and scrambled to get back on his feet in order to dash back into the bedroom and grab the phone off the nightstand.
It didn't take long for them to answer. He could still save her, if the paramedics got here fast enough. He didn't stop to think that she was still underwater, or that she might have already been there a while. Or that, even if she hadn't drowned, the combination of alcohol and anti-depressants could have killed her long ago.
"My mother, she's…in the bath tub, and I think she's drowning, or did. She's not moving…"
"Where are you located?"
"Did you check for a pulse?"
No, he didn't. He dashed back into the bathroom, phone receiver in hand. Heedless of the glass shards on his feet, he grabbed the arm that was protruding out of the water and pulled her up. He cradled her body to his with one arm as he kneeled beside the tub.
He noticed that the water from her body had slowly permeated his clothes.
It was lukewarm, cool even.
She didn't move, even with her neck rolling back at that uncomfortable angle. That should hurt, shouldn't it? He couldn't feel a pulse in her wrist, or her neck.
"No, I don't know if there's a pulse. I…I don't think so, but I could be wrong, I could be checking wrong…"333
"Ok, well the paramedics are on their way."
What do people do in situations like this? He would save her.
He dropped the phone on the floor and began to pull her out of the water. CPR. When people are drowning, you perform CPR. God, but the glass…Grabbing a towel nearby, he lay it down to cover the glass, only to see the white towel soak up the red wine.
His eyes widened in panic as he realized that the blood from his torn feet was also staining the clean towel.
But it's ok, because he'd save her. He opted to bring her back into the bedroom and lay his mother down on the bed, smoothing away the damp strands that clung to her face. Was it ok to put your lips against your mother's? For CPR?
Oh god, but the paramedics will get here soon and he can't let them see her naked. His mother was a good woman, he had to save her. He couldn't let them see her naked, she had dignity, and pride.
He searched frantically for something to cover her up with. He found her bathrobe, tangling her limp body in the fabric in an effort to conceal any exposed skin other than her face.
And then he saw the white slip on the oak-wood vanity.
Her suicide note.
He knew. He knew his mother. Even with the implications, the wine and the pills -- even in her sadness, in her depression -- she wouldn't commit suicide. She wouldn't start to make dinner, and decide to commit suicide midway through her cooking. And she also wouldn't dot her I's like that.
He stopped panicking then. A strange calm settled over him. He knew his mother, and she wouldn't commit suicide.
He also knew his father, and what he was capable of.
Gaara woke up at 4:37am. The dream always started the same, and ended with the same daunting realization. He had confronted his father the next day, threatening him, but there was little he could do. No one would believe the accusations of someone who had openly hated his father.
His father had even sneered and said, "There's no use, Gaara. I planned it perfectly. I don't see why it matters so much; it's not as if she cared for you."
Gaara had decided then that death was too good for his father. He had vowed to strip Kaze Keiji of everything that mattered to him: his career, his reputation and his money…All the things that he had valued above his wife.
Two weeks later Gaara had experienced the first attempt on his life.
Gaara inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, once again burying the pain that his dream had dug up. He stared at the ceiling, knowing it was useless trying to get back to sleep again.
He turned to see Neji sleeping, the Hyuuga's back still to him, sheets pulled to his waist. He toyed with the idea of reaching out to him, maybe even seeking comfort from him, but quickly pushed the thought away. There was no use in trying to find more meaning behind their actions other than sexual need.
He focused his eyes upward, blinking in the dim light. He quietly got up to turn out that living room light that was still on. The sudden absence of light and his unfamiliar surroundings caused a strong surge of loneliness to suddenly envelope him.
He thought that he had become numb to this feeling long ago, yet here it was, that dull ache that threatened to hollow him out until he was only a walking shell. It was similar to the feeling he'd experienced when he'd realized his father would never be charged for the murder of his mother.
Entering the bedroom again, Gaara made his way to an armchair in the corner of the room by the window. The moon was barely a sliver in the sky, while the stars twinkled, as if winking at him knowingly. Gaara wondered what secrets they held, what they foresaw in his future that he didn't.
Dawn was only a couple of hours away, and with it came the harsh reality of day. Nights, though lonely, provided sanctuary. The whole world slept around him as if under a spell while he stayed awake, the only one in existence during the quiet of the night.
He felt like an intruder in Neji's bedroom, out of place while the Hyuuga slept. Neji's breathing was deep, his hair cascading over his face while his head rested on an outstretched arm. Watching Neji, Gaara found that his breathing was beginning to match Neji's, his body beginning to relax while he sat.
Images of their time together flitted through his mind, the heat, the touch of Neji's skin, the slickness. For the first time since his mother's death, the heart that had died with her began to stir.
Neji's mind was still floating somewhere off in sleepy land, but he knew that he was cold. He was naked and he was cold, and to top it all off, his head was pounding.
Neji kept his eyes closed, hoping that if he prayed hard enough, the pain would dissipate. He reached out blindly for the covers and found that the right side of his bed to be vacant.
Maybe I should sleep with men more often; they leave before the next morning.
Snuggling further into the blankets, Neji found that, although he was significantly warmer, he could no longer go back to sleep. Gaara had left him in the middle of the night…That should have been a good thing, right?
Sleep was evading him. He decided aspirin would be the best he could do for himself right now and forced his eyelids to open. As his vision cleared, he realized that he was looking directly into cool green eyes that remained unblinking in the corner of the room.
Neji shot up, banging his head against the headboard before he registered Gaara's blank expression.
"Holy shit! Do you practice the art of creepiness!"
An eyebrow quirked at his comment, but he otherwise received no response.
Neji cradled the back of his head gingerly, unsure of what to say, and completely weirded out to find Gaara watching him.
"Um…What time did you get up?"
Gaara shrugged. "Four? Five?"
Neji tried not to show his surprise but was unable to resist ogling when he realized that Gaara was still naked. The redhead was sitting there in the armchair as if it were a throne, completely unashamed of his nudity…
Neji swallowed hard. He tugged the comforter closer. Morning wood was damn near impossible to control.
This time, two eyebrows rose in amusement. It was rare when Gaara was truly amused, but Neji's sudden embarrassment was unbearably cute.
In a moment of panic, Neji did what he did best: turn into a cold-hearted bastard. He fixed Gaara with a harsh glare.
"It's only normal for this to happen."
Gaara was still sitting there naked. And yes, Neji still had a painful erection that he could not get rid of.
Neji found himself completely flustered. Gaara wasn't very responsive to his glares.
"Will you stop doing that!"
"You know…looking at me and…sitting there, naked…"
A thin smile spread across Gaara's face. "I thought you liked me naked. In fact, I think you demanded that I take off my clothes."
Neji's insecurities from the night before came rushing back. Was he really attracted to Gaara or was that a one-time thing? Did he want to find out?
He looked Gaara straight in the eyes, threw back his covers and stretched. He was going to act normal, dammit, erection or not. He never cared before if women saw him with morning wood, so why should he start now?
…Although the appreciative looks that he was receiving from Gaara were starting to make his skin burn…
What was he going to do? Oh yes, aspirin.
Neji wandered into the adjoining bathroom, bewildered that for the first time, he felt awkward walking around naked in front of someone. Another hidden glance at Gaara revealed that the redhead felt no such discomfort.
Neji attempted to relieve the tension through conversation. "Uh, so…do you usually wake up that early?"
Gaara shrugged. Was that a yes?
"Well, are you tired? I mean, you can get back in bed if you want to."
A sly grin broke out on Gaara's face. Well, damn if he didn't look sexy. "Why?" He looked pointedly at Neji's cock. "Think you need some help with that after all?"
Neji almost choked on the pill he was trying to swallow.
"That's not what I meant."
Gaara suddenly had a bored expression on his face. "And people say I have no sense of humor."
Gaara studied Neji, who was now methodically brushing his hair and trying his best to ignore Gaara. It seemed that their roles had switched. Neji, who had been so sure of himself last night, now seemed lost and confused in the light of day. Whereas he, who had resisted his attraction to Neji, no longer cared what any of it meant and only knew that whatever Neji did to him last night felt damn good.
Neji stopped, mid-brush, almost as if he had forgotten Gaara was there. Slipping into his usual routine of getting ready in the morning, he had found a sense of normalcy, which he now blamed Gaara for interrupting.
Gaara continued when he realized that Neji wouldn't answer.
Neji had recovered his bearings and exuded the normal air of confidence he usually held. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"I'm not stupid, Hyuuga. Something's different. What happened to 'You know you want it as much as I do'?"
Neji turned toward Gaara and stalked out of the bathroom and into the walk-in closet, clearly irritated that the redhead could read him so easily. It was rare that he allowed anyone to see his emotions. He concentrated on maintaining his indifferent attitude and walked back out with a newly pressed suit.
He smirked at Gaara who still had not moved from the armchair. "I did want it, but now we've both had our fun, right?" As he got dressed, he heard Gaara snort in the corner of the room. He looked up to see that Gaara was now collecting his clothes that had piled on the floor. The redhead had a cold yet knowing look in his eyes.
"You Hyuuga's think you're so perceptive. You're supposed to see everything, but you can't even see the truth when it's right in front of you." Gaara now had his pants on and was clutching his shirt in his hand. He approached until his eyes were level with Neji's.
"Do you honestly think that I would believe that all you wanted last night was to get meoff, and then be done with it? I can see through this little façade of yours. Look at yourself, Hyuuga. You're standing there like a scared little boy."
Gaara carefully put his shirt back on, allowing the silence to stretch before continuing. "Even after all that persuasion last night, you still haven't convinced yourself."
And with that, he headed for the front door.
A/N: Sorry this took so frickin' long. I had a mad case of writer's block. Well, once again, this chapter isn't perfect and I will most likely go back and edit it. PLEASE let me know any suggestions or criticisms that you have because I would like to make this as close to perfect as possible. I really have no idea if I'm going in the right direction or if the characters are totally cracked out. Thanks a lot to all those who are reading, and especially those who are reviewing!