I swatted at the plot bunny when it nibbled. But then it got vicious and opened up a vein so you all get to see the last of the last. This is the exception that proves the rule and after this there is no more fanfiction, I swear.

Many addicts have made similar statements. We'll see how long I last. I say the same thing every time I binge drink.

I'm trying to keep it T. Did I succeed?

All my little vignettes. How odd they are. How unedited they are.

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto and his merry band of corporate execs. Oddly enough, the plot and setting come from my own brain. Scared yet?


Gaara had no idea tassels could move that way. Obviously Naruto did because he was watching the show with the delight of a connoisseur. Out of the corner of one eye Gaara saw Lee trying to look and keep himself from looking at the very same time. That conflict of interest was only so humorous and Gaara quickly lost interest. It wasn't that he was entirely uninvolved in what was going on around him, but he saw provocative sights on a nightly basis while working clubs and bars so how this was special escaped him. This was his bachelor party. He should show some enthusiasm for Naruto's sake, since he had gone to all the trouble of planning it.

After months of convincing Sakura to accept the engagement, a few more to get her to fix on a date, and then a last few of planning and stressing they were mere days away from the actual ceremony. Gaara was feeling oddly mellow, (with only that ulcerous ache that came from the prospect of seeing his father on the big day) and more looking forward to having full access to his blushing bride seeing as they would only merge their respective living situations after the nuptials.

Actually, Sakura was on his mind in general at the moment because he would have thought she would put up more of a fight about Naruto lascivious plans for Gaara's bachelor party. She had to know that nearly naked (perhaps even naked) and beautiful women would be involved. As a rule Sakura didn't seem to enjoy Gaara pursuing those kinds of visual stimuli seeing as he got it for free at work, (and at home). Yet again he replayed their conversation in his mind as he looked for a clue to why he felt troubled.


"So I heard Naruto is taking you out with the guys tomorrow night." She was sorting through what needed to go to the dry cleaners that week while Gaara flipped through cable channels with epileptic fit inducing speed.

"Yes."

"So. . . that means you're having a bachelor party then? Tomorrow?"

What was he supposed to say? Uzumaki had insisted. "Yes."

"Ah." She put aside something else for cleaning and then paused again. "It's perfectly ok, you know."

Why in the world would she say that? No matter. There was a metal hour coming up on one of the music video channels. That might be worth watching. "I suppose."

"I mean, it wasn't your idea. And Naruto can be so forceful sometimes. Overbearing even."

Had she lost it? Gaara heard the opening chords for an old Metallica song and his eyes flicked over to the screen and then back to his fiancé.

"Everyone does it. I'm not going to ask you about it later, or anything like that." She folded the same shirt twice before putting it in the pile with the rest. "Just so you know."

"I didn't think you would." He got up from the couch and wrapped his arms around her from behind.

She picked up a particularly complicated shirt with snaps on it, crisscrossing patterns of tears and a zipper on the sleeve. Obviously his. "Does this go in with the rest?"

Heck if he knew.


From the way she had made a point of talking to him about it, he could have sworn this titillating evening was not among the things she would possibly approve of. She had a habit of talking out loud to herself when she was troubled or upset, after all, and that little bout of oddness was characteristic of one of her little episodes.

Gaara looked over. Naruto had a shiny pink bra on his head. Best not to ask questions. A nurse in white vinyl shimmied down the catwalk and Gaara's eyes communicated interest to Gaara's body while Gaara's brain continued to process on an entirely different level.

If she was working out something she was troubled with, then why would she lie to him? That wasn't he style at all. This would be a stupid thing to lie to him about if she had reservations. All she would have to do would be to tell him and they could have had a night at home. Was she worried that he would compare her to these women? She knew better than to worry about something like that. She wasn't insecure about her appearance, for the most part, and he ego wasn't lacking. There was something else bothering her and the bachelor party just reminded her.

Did it have something to do with the wedding? He doubted that since every last detail had been planned, and she had gloried in it. Sakura was a detail kind of person and she had been in her element when she planned the wedding with her mother, Temari, and a legion of friends and professionals that Gaara wasn't even going to begin to remember when they had to write thank you cards by the ton.

The wording had been odd, for one thing. "Perfectly natural"? And "overbearing" is a word that had never come in conjunction with Naruto when she talked about him. Though she had said it about Ino a few. . .

It was realization like lightening in his head. A crash of cymbals in his brain.

"I need to go." He had to repeat it as well as tap Naruto on the shoulder to get his attention. He figured he owed at least that much courtesy to his host. (Sakura had been coaching him on common civility for over a year now.)

"Bathroom's that way!" Naruto yelled over the pounding techno beats. "But if you. . ."

"Goodbye." Gaara moved towards the exit, grabbing his coat on the way and gladly seeking fresh air where the smell of sweat and stale cigarettes weren't tempting him to bum a smoke for that sweet addictive buzz he missed so much.

Naruto would probably come after him in a few minutes so he would have to move fast. He needed to cover a lot of ground tonight. There were only so many male strip clubs, after all.


It was harder than he thought to begin his systematic search. It was true there were only a few clubs, but he had come in a cab with Naruto and the others as they fully expected to be slurringly drunk before midnight hit. No car. Cabs were expensive so he would have to choose his locations carefully. One ripped phone book page later he had addresses but no leads.

Gaara was well connected in the club world with security personnel but the red light districts always mystified him. None of his regular work came from there, and it was often the bouncers were less than reputable people themselves. They didn't do the mercenary club circuit, they were on a circuit all their own. In addition, the people who did security at male strip clubs were a different sort of security man. They were more likely to look pretty, for one thing, so as not to frighten off prospective customers, male or female. Beyond that, Gaara couldn't think of a single person he had worked with who had worked the door of a male strip club. He didn't relish this chore.

Naturally the first strip club was the most embarrassing. It was lit up like nothing else he had ever seen with huge fake neon palm trees and a pink "Copacabana" blinking in rhythm to some unheard beat. He asked the man out front if anyone with pink hair had gone inside recently. The man was cagey, oddly playful, and finally Gaara had enough and just paid the cover and marched in.

He marched right out less than a minute later.

He crossed "Copacabana" off the list. This time he paid closer attention to ads on the page. It wouldn't do to walk into anymore gay strip clubs. The bouncer winked at him as he stalked past and Gaara set his lips into a determined line. He would find his fiancé come hell or high water tonight.

It wasn't that he was worried about her. No, not really. But he was troubled enough by the idea of her feeling unsatisfied with him. Being a short pasty goth boy had never been a point of angsty contention with him, but the idea that Sakura would have the opportunity to view many men considered to be attractive only drilled into his brain a cold feeling of insecure rage. At least this was something active to do, rather than sitting and wondering for the rest of the night while women he wasn't remotely interested in tried to tempt him while being entirely uninterested in him as well.

There were a few more in close radius to the first club but their either proved to be unviable as a similar orientation to the first or unsuccessful in that no pink haired women passed through their doors.

A proposition and two job offers later. . .

Gaara was something close to flying off the handle. There were three clubs left on the list and he had had to cab across town to find the secondary red light district. He should have guessed that they'd be in the more posh part of the city, knowing Ino and her tastes, but Gaara wasn't exactly thinking clearly.

There was a slight wheeze to his breathing as he tried to hold his anger in check.

"I'm looking for her." He told the bouncer, a large man with sunglasses on. Sunglasses at night, what a stupid affectation. The picture he held up would have to explain everything as he was so enraged he couldn't form proper sentences anymore. The picture was a bit tattered, having been in his wallet for so long, and wasn't particularly good seeing as it was really half of a picture he had taken at the beach. Sakura was taking off her sunglasses and about to ask him a question. Between the odd "o" of her mouth and the candid and poorly chosen angle, it probably seemed to the man that Gaara was a stalker.

"Get out of here, man."

"Is she here?"

"Don't make me rough you up, buddy."

Gaara, not one to be threatened, got in close with a speed and strength that probably scared the much bigger man. He was not in the mood for games. "Just tell me, is she here or not, and I'll leave right now."

"Yes, yes, ok!" An arm behind the back could hurt a surprising amount if you twisted it just right. And wrists were so delicate.

"Is that yes, you'll answer me, or yes she's here?" Gaara gave a fearfully awful smile that the man luckily couldn't see.

"She's here! She's here!"

And just like that Gaara disappeared. Well, didn't disappear so much as move behind the building as the man collected himself. With victory in sight, Gaara forced his fast beating heart to calm down. It was such a rush, those little explosions of temper, but he needed to be rational now. Going in through the front door was no longer an option, as the man would only call the cops on him.

The clang of bottles and the rustle of plastic alerted Gaara to the dumpster he was standing near. The open kitchen door was too convenient to refuse. There was steam and people yelling and bodies moving everywhere. Gaara noted the servers and what they wore. Luckily it was all black, probably to keep them unnoticeable as opposed to the men on stage. He shed his coat in a corner and moved with purposeful strides towards the door to the outside.

A blast of sound nearly had him covering his ears. It had been muffled thumps in the kitchen but now it was retro remixed pop in full throttle attempting to explode his eardrums. Lights blazed and Gaara closed his eyes to reorient himself. He was nearly run over by a server with a tray coming out of the kitchen at full tilt. Time to get moving.

One woman tried to flag him down to take an order but he ignored her, despite some vile language she used in his direction. So much for it being a "ladies' club". There was a pause in the music at which point he made the fatal error of looking up from the crowd of women and up at the stage instead.

Very few men he knew looked like that. Kankuro had a stockier build, but essentially looked like a clone of their father, with enough muscle to be threatening but tended towards a bit of fat. Naruto was lean, and Lee was almost outright skinny like Gaara was but both of them were considerably taller. That day at the beach with Sakura's friends had been particularly informative in the most painful way possible. The men on stage looked nothing like the typically fit men that Gaara worked with as bouncers. These men looked like they hit the gym not as a way to stay fit but as a hobby to build specific muscles. There was posing and flexing involved as one man with mismatched eyes winked at a crowd of screaming fans. He seemed to be a particular favorite.

This would live on in Gaara's nightmares, surely.

A wolf whistle from somewhere brought Gaara back to his senses and he continued to scan the crowd. Finally he spotted her, not Sakura, but Ino. She was screaming at a man in a green thong and waving a bill of some type. Near her was Tenten. His eyes panned over to find Sakura trying to drag Hinata from her seat and shove a bill into the shy girl's hand at the same time.

He had hoped to find her looking bored and hunched in a corner with her drink, actually, but trust his ever boisterous fiancé to get into the spirit of things. Unconsciously, he found himself fingering his bicep. He resisted the urge to slap himself. Now was not the time to fall into something like self conscious pity.

Hinata had maneuvered she and Sakura around the stage and they appeared to be heading for the side and possibly the bathrooms if he was lucky. Good little Hinata, trying to buy time with one an infamous communal trip to the ladies' room. Sakura probably wasn't buying it, but it opened up a rather good opportunity for Gaara. There was no more room for shame tonight. After what he had been through, storming a girls' bathroom was nothing.

It seemed like a good idea until he walked in, anyway. Some women mumbled to one another as they passed him and Gaara became conscious of the fact that he probably only had as long as it took for them to report a man in the girls' room before he was dragged out of this place. Sakura's somewhat slurred voice was coming from one stall and he assumed Hinata was in another. Two women checking their makeup at the mirror gave him dirty looks until he sneered at them and effectively chased them out.

In the now empty bathroom he could clearly hear Sakura's monologue.

". . . and did you see that one with the different color eyes? I don't know if I'm twisted now, but I had to see in my mind what he'd look like with eyeliner."

"Ah." Hinata answered.

"It's like I'm trying to turn every guy I see into Gaara. Am I sick or what?"

"Well—"

"You aren't supposed to answer that, Hinata."

"Yes, I—"

Gaara heard masculine voices coming from outside, but really he had heard all he needed to anyway. The loss of his coat was sad but needful for the evening and he shimmied through the small window and dropped to the alley outside with a jarring impact to his feet. That was going to smart later.

Limping, he made tracks to the street where he could catch a cab back home. Home, in this case, was Sakura's apartment. He had boxes there already, clothes, makeup—all the essentials. There was still that thrilling wisp of anger pumping a vein on the side of his head, but the beast had been calmed by Sakura's drunken words in the bathroom.

It wasn't that he was being compared to other men, it was that other men were being compared to him, and found lacking. You couldn't buy peace of mind like that.


"Mmm. You're home." Sakura seemed surprised, or as surprised as someone could be who had just come down from a hard booze buzz.

"Yes." Gaara was watching informercials, being the only thing on at this time in the morning. He would have preferred an "off the air" signal but informercials had apparently become the "off the air" signal of the post modern age. Even static might have been an improvement, honestly.

"Did you have a good time?"

". . ."

Sakura forged ahead in the conversation. "Well, I had a good time tonight. Going out with the girls is nice once in a while." She crashed on the couch beside him in a heavy manner uncharacteristic of her. She must really have been tired. Gaara was nocturnal, so this was par for the course for him. "But this is still the best part of the evening, by far."

Allowing some fondness to shine through, in light of the upbeat turn of this strange evening, he wrapped an arm around his already lightly dozing fiancé and tuned out the drone of someone trying to sell a salad spinner.