Title: Feeling Better
Notes: luthe and I came up with this idea after reading MaldororGW's fic A Simple Night Out with the Guys, based on the Saki-chan series by askerian. Ninja in drag? Yes, please! This fic takes place right after Maldoror's as sort of a sequel. And it took FOREVER to write! Gah!
As a barely relevant side note for anyone who doesn't know, Kabuki is a very old type of Japanese theatre that Kankuro bases his makeup after. Oh, and Naruto doesn't belong to me. Though Gaara should.
Kankuro watched his brother with a feeling of disbelief somewhere between revulsion and awe as the Kazekage smoothed the lacy skirts down around his legs, plucking with inquisitive fingers at the soft black fabric.
His bare feet making marks on the dirty stone floor, Gaara's reflection stared back at him from the old, cracked mirror he stood before. It hadn't been used in years, and the shiny surface that Gaara had wiped clear of dust bore finger marks at the edges.
Gaara turned and twisted to look at himself in it, watching the shift and flow of the short skirts against his thighs. Staring at himself over his shoulder, Gaara bent forward so that the back of the skirts slid up, bearing more stark white thigh than any sort of decency permitted. The mirror mimicked his small nod of approval.
Seeing his brother in nothing but layer upon layer of dark, silky skirts, his too-white, too-smooth chest bared in the murky, shuttered mid-afternoon light, Kankuro couldn't help but wonder what the hell was going through his mind.
The Kazekage had been strangely withdrawn ever since returning from their joint mission with the Leaf jounin a week ago. The one that had ended, at Kankuro's own suggestion, with the five of them together at the local bar for a night of celebratory drinks. A night that had somehow ended up with Konoha's Uchiha Sasuke, self-proclaimed avenger and stoically cold, brutally vicious asshole, in layers of elegant lace and silk, gracefully slender legs laced into improbably high platform boots, and pink lip gloss shining over his pouty kiss-me lips. Once Kankuro realized who it was, he'd been able to do little more than gape at the sight of him hanging onto Naruto's arm with a sweetly alluring blush spread across his delicate cheeks.
It was almost as if he hadn't been Sasuke at all.
Gaara had been strangely fascinated by this boy-turned-girl, watching him intently the entire night. His eyes followed every movement, every gesture, every graceful tilt of his chin and flutter of his long, soft-looking eyelashes. In fact, he watched so intently that Naruto started joking about him trying to steal his girl. Gaara had only given him an odd look.
Gaara hadn't, however, wanted to discuss it later. He blatantly changed the subject when it was brought up, even after Kankuro had approached him together with Temari (who had laughed so hard at the image of Sasuke in drag that she'd ended up with tears streaming down her cheeks-- Kankuro never could understand her sense of humor). Kankuro's only alternative was to hope the mission's aftermath and his brother's mood were unrelated. Because as much as he loved his brother, he really, really could've gone for not dealing with this one.
But even if he'd guessed what Gaara was thinking, never in a million years would he have pictured it ending up quite like this. Namely, himself locked into a tiny, forgotten dressing room with a half-naked Kazekage posing for himself in a skirt. It was so many levels of wrong, Kankuro couldn't even begin to classify it.
He wasn't sure if it was better or worse when Gaara smoothed the nearly transparent, black gauze camisole down over himself, watching his reflection as his hands slid slowly down his chest and stomach, and then beneath the skirt to tuck the shirt ends in. His intense green eyes never left his reflection as he reached for the corset, fixed upon the dark fabric and his own flexing muscles as he fastened the intricately embroidered, ribbon-adorned article across his chest.
Kankuro looked away, hoping it would go quickly. The room was stuffy, and dust hung suspended in the air, lit by the dim sunlight filtering through the slatted blinds. He was starting to feel claustrophobic. Frowning, Kankuro held back a sigh, wanting but not wanting to know his younger brother's intention. Was he going to walk around town like this, dolled up in lace and ribbons like the Leaf jounin? The very idea made Kankuro's mind a strange blank, unable to even begin to comprehend the possibility, much less how the battle-hardened ninja of Suna would take it.
A soft thump brought Kankuro out of his reverie, and he looked back up to a sight he really shouldn't be seeing. Gaara was bent over, balancing on one foot as he strapped a shiny black platform shoe, obviously the cause of the noise, onto the other. A cascade of dark ruffles flowed over his backside, but not so far down that Kankuro couldn't see the barest hint of color from beneath the layers.
His brother, the remorseless, murderous, demon-Shukaku-bearing Kazekage, was wearing silky pink panties.
And then, thankfully before Kankuro's brain had fully processed the implications, his brother straightened up again, shoe buckled, now showing only a few inches of milky thigh over the top of sheer black stockings. Black, all of it black, except for those panties. Gaara seemed oblivious to his brother's presence and didn't notice how red his face had become. Kankuro managed to look away just as Gaara grabbed for the other shoe.
Eyes fixed securely on his own toes and mind forcefully blank, Kankuro soon heard a soft, patterned clomping. He cautiously peeked up just enough to see the shoes, looking strangely like something a six year old would wear when her mother dressed her up to impress the grandparents, walking in short strides up and down the small room. Practicing, Kankuro though.
A few strides more, and Gaara was back at the mirror sliding a ribboned hair band onto his head, and Kankuro forgot he wasn't supposed to be watching. A small container like the ones that held medicinal ointment appeared, and Gaara smoothed some of it into the back of his hair, sticking it up in small, delicate-looking tufts.
And then came the makeup.
Lip gloss at first, something shiny and lightly pink, that made Gaara's otherwise unnoticeable lips look soft and round. Something else pink on the cheeks, a powder, that stood out starkly against his pale skin. He rubbed it in with his fingers so that only a dusting of it remained and then stood, hand still poised near his cheek, turning his head from side to side. There was an odd look on his face, and he seemed to be searching for something, but what that was, Kankuro didn't know. Whatever he saw though, it seemed to meet with his approval, and he dropped his hand to pick up the next small case.
This makeup didn't seem to want to obey him though. It didn't glimmer the way he wanted it to maybe, or hide what he didn't want to see. He tried every color in the case, rubbing it in softly with the small brush above each darkly-encircled eye, only to wipe it off with the heel of his palm when it didn't suit him. His wrist was becoming a strange Technicolor rainbow, his eyes reddened from constant rubbing, as Kankuro saw him go back to the original color.
As he cycled through the colors again, wiping after each attempt, his strokes became quicker, sharper, his gaze more intense. The brush dug into the soft skin of his eyelid in a way that looked nearly painful, the tip of it jerking with his erratic strokes. Kankuro watched with growing concern as his brother's breathing sped, his breath catching audibly in his throat. His shaking hand accidentally rubbed against his cheek and as he wiped away yet another failed application, smearing purples and greens and blues in its wake. The muscles in Gaara's back tightened, chin trembling as he stared wide-eyed at his reflection. The small brush hit the floor with a click and skittered away as Gaara moved to touch his shaking fingers to the misplaced color on his softly pinkened skin.
Kankuro didn't know what was wrong, but it put him on edge the way he used to feel when they were young and Gaara was still homicidal. When he saw Gaara's gourd, until now forgotten by the door in a pile with the rest of his clothes, start to move, the sand inside rustling anxiously, he knew he had to do something.
Quietly he approached his brother, who was still trembling at the sight of his own reflection, and wiped the back of his glove softly against Gaara's smeared cheek. He listened for the pop of the gourd's cork, the sign he should back off, and quick, but heard nothing. Body still trembling and pupils dilated in his too-wide eyes, it was as if Gaara didn't see him at all.
Peering down at the pile of brushes, glosses, and powders, Kankuro took a deep breath. He knew makeup, in the general sense, since puppet masters usually incorporated it into their ensemble: red for the hero, blue for the villain. But what about Gaara? Who was HE trying to be?
Finally, Kankuro grabbed a few things and set to work, hoping it wouldn't make matters worse. After all, dying over a tube of mascara would be nothing short of humiliating.
So he turned Gaara carefully away from the mirror, reapplied his blush, and smoothed a thin layer of green the same shade as his eyes above the black around them. Was this making Gaara happy? he wondered as he picked up a dark eye pencil. And was it wrong that it really didn't feel the least bit strange to be drawing fine, femininely arching brows on his little brother?
When he was finished, Gaara turned back to the mirror to examine himself. He blinked and tilted his head, twisting this way and that as he raised and lowered his chin, pausing to pull a lock of hair down over his tattoo, which Kankuro hadn't been able to cover.
As far as makeup went, Kankuro thought it looked a bit off, but the Kazekage seemed fascinated with what he saw. It was as if he never realized he could look any way but how he always had. He turned round and round, fluffing his skirts, lifting his penciled-in brows, and sliding his hands over his nonexistent breasts. He walked up to the mirror and held his face just inches away from the glass, pursing and running his tongue lightly over his shiny pink lips. Then he walked as far away as the cramped room permitted, first standing solidly, next shifting his hips, turning his toes inward, and clasping his hands together at his waist, just the way Saki-chan had done it. In fact, everything about how he was acting had become a strange copy of Sasuke's actions, right down to the way Gaara smoothed his skirts underneath himself as he sat on the small bench before the mirror.
The figure reflected back at him demurely crossed her ankles and buried her hands in her lap, head tilted downward, eyes barely visible. Every so often, she shyly peeked up, only to look quickly back down once more. She was very picture of innocent, burgeoning womanhood.
Or rather, she should have been.
But even though the clothes may have been the same and the actions studiously copied, it struck Kankuro that his brother looked nothing like Sasuke had. Whereas the other man had looked fragile and delicately demure to the point that he'd fooled Kankuro into thinking he was a girl (and a damn fine one at that), it was almost the opposite for Gaara. No, Gaara looked…
The sleeveless top and corset, as intricately embellished as they were, and fancy skirts with their multitudes of ruffles, did nothing to hide his masculinity. His tightly muscled arms, firm thighs, and severe gaze weren't transformed into something else as Sasuke's had been, and no sweetly embarrassed blush tinted his cheeks. He was still strong, harsh, distant, and in the end, wholly Gaara. No, he didn't look one bit like Saki-chan.
Gaara looked like…
But before he could decide, Gaara nodded at his reflection, calmly standing up. "I think I'll take it off now," he said in a quiet voice. It was his first acknowledgment of his brother's presence all afternoon.
Kankuro let out a breath he hadn't even known he was holding and nodded in agreement as Gaara tugged impassively at the tightly-laced strings of the corset.
He collected the clothes from his brother, who seemed completely emotionless about the whole process. As Kankuro folded the soft fabric, stacking everything neatly on the small bench, he saw Gaara, pale, slender body now entirely unclothed, mussing his hair and wiping the makeup from his face. He checked the mirror to make sure it was all gone.
"I feel better now," the Kazekage told him suddenly.
"Uh, yeah," Kankuro told him, feeling he should say something in response, "that's good."
Gaara nodded almost imperceptibly and then started to dress. It was strange to see him slide into his regular clothes again, almost as if lace and ruffles were his usual attire, and the dark slacks and leather vest were something new and untried. When Kankuro picked up the fluffy stack of gauze and frills, calloused fingertips catching on the shiny satin, he felt a strange sort of connection to his brother, a sense of bonding as if they'd just shared something terribly important.
He did his best not to think about it.
"So, Gaara…" he asked, doing his best to keep his tone neutral, "what do you want me to do with the clothes?"
No visible expression touched Gaara's face as he hoisted his gourd onto his back and opened the door to leave. "Just put them in my closet," he said over his shoulder.
Kankuro sighed, stuck the clothes under his arm, and made sure to lock the door behind them.