Breaking the Music
It's raging dark and the music is deafening; the music set here is more advanced than anything I've ever seen. The stage is seemingly endless—the audience is but a blur of colors and screams and ecstatic jumping-up-and-down and my vision is full of sharp images and colors. And scents.
Impossible, I know, yet anything is possible in this contest of impossibility. Neji is singing clearly, outwardly composed—yet I know that the same wild fire that had surged through us the moment we stepped on the black paint-splattered podium had touched him as well—the wild eyes, tousled hair, rigid pose and voice full of emotion tasted salty on my tongue. Another impossibility.
But there's enough of them tonight, isn't there? Sasuke's drums are a musical racket of snaps and clangs and beats and Naruto's guitar is sitting useless by his side as he boldly screams his accompaniment into the microphone. We're not excellent. Not even great. We're the average wannabe band, taking an impossible shot at an impossible dream at the Battle of the Bands where everything impossible is turned inside-out and twisted upside-down. But we like it.
That's all that matters.
No more hiding, no more fear—raw emotion bursting out everywhere, accompanying pleasure, singing for the fun of it and nothing else.
Temari. Kankuro. I spot them in the audience, not singing with the rest of the crowd nor having their hair tousled, just standing there—composed. Watching. Hinata and Kiba are off to the side—Hinata smiling and Kiba cheering Naruto on; Shikamaru is sitting offside Temari with an expression of boredom on his face, though his eyes are clear and alert. Itachi and Kisame have even decide to join the fun—seated in the back row, they are hidden in the mass of flickering shadows and lights and colors, smiling their secret smile as the battle rage carries on.
It takes a while in the blur of emotions and colors and what seems to be a lifetime when in reality is less than ten minutes, but I finally spot them. Worn. Old. Focused.
Mom and Baki are sitting in the front row—sitting, not standing—Mom (Yashamaru) with his hands folded in his lap in a docile manner while Baki hovers over him, much like how the psychiatrist would hover over me at the treatment center.
A mirage of colors. A blur of the truth and the lies, the memories and the facts. My guitar-playing is going into a frenzy of sharp chords and accents, hand and mouth moving on their own accord as I lock eyes with him. Mom.
In his eyes, in this raw miniature world stripped of disguise, I see his sadness. Pain. Confusion. Guilt. Righteous anger. I know he sees mine, too. All that emotion. Fleeing. Gone away.
There is no more hiding. No more backtracking, regrets, layers of filth and lies and misunderstandings—just me, the music, and everyone else in the world.
Music is no longer my cover. Neither is my density, nor my horribly tragic past.
"We have to start breaking the music, Gaara."
The music. My cover. My base.
The world freezes, and I watch in fascination—Sasuke, smile on his face even though he'd just lost his boyfriend to his friend; Neji, whose family tears him apart every moment of his life; Naruto, the sad blonde boy from the shelter whose multiple personality shattered his childhood—standing here, letting out all their sorrows and anger and laughter.
Standing here, breaking the music.
AN: I thank everyone who has supported me so far. I know I said I was going to list everyone's names for helping me in the previous chapters, but right now that sounds damn right silly (seeing as there are several hundreds of reviews and I am not going to go and copypaste everyone's long, agonizingly full of number/symbol's names. I'm just thanking everyone in general.
I thank those who kept track of this story through story alerts. I know how it feels whenever someone on my alert list updates. Hopefully, you felt the same when I updated, too.
I thank those who favorited my story. I love favorites. It makes me feel a lot better that someone else out there in the world appreciates this story as much as I do (though I know there are flaws, it doesn't mean I can't like it).
I especially thank my reviewers--more accurately, those who took their time and told me what they liked. They boosted in me in my times of self-wallow (yes, I do that, too) and the critiques I got sort of gave me a reality check. I may have thrown a sort of tantrum (it was some chapter back then... can't remember which one), but I appreciate it all the same. And for those "update please!" reviewers? Appreciated as well. Though not as much as the detailed ones (but still appreciated).
Wow. I can't believe where this story's gone. I mean, I'm not even a Gaanaru fan to begin with and this is my longest, most complex fanfiction yet (I'm a Sasunaru fan). Anyway, it was interesting to write, and though I did drag it out in the end and made Gaara a little more OOC then normal (I AM SO SORRY ABOUT THAT!), I still finished it and I'm proud of that. Truly. Honest to God. Anyway, for those who have stayed with me since this fic started, thanks for sticking to it! And for those who may have finished reading it just now, thanks for reading the whole thing and not giving up in the middle of dragged-on-ness. Thank you so much! (bows).
And that, I say, is the end.
Except for the epilogue. You can read the epilogue if you like. Here it is:
Thankfully, Kankuro is there to help me pack the garbage of stuff into about a hundred little cardboard boxes Kankuro stole from his professor's storage cabinet.
"Just don't tell him and we'll be fine," he had hissed at me when I questioned him about it, "and what the hell is this? A hairdryer?"
"I think it's my old iDog toy. Donate it."
Naruto doesn't show his blonde-headed self until almost all the "necessities" were packed (minus the cookie dough ice cream. Temari was like, "NO, Gaara, you are not bringing the cookie dough ice cream to your dormitory! It's gonna, like, freaking melt!") and spent most of the time making lewd sexual references to my pants, our recent gig, and Sasuke's new infatuation.
"I can't believe you're still wearing those!"
"I mean, after what happened last time with Sasuke and Sai, I thought you'd have the mind to—I mean, oh god, this is so funny—"
"What ever happened to being kind and considerate to your boyfriend?" I cross my arms and glare at him with an "I am going to rightfully deny you anything sexual for the next month if you do not gather yourself up and stop acting like an immature fool" superiority to it. Naruto gasps in mock horror.
Glad to see my glares have "improved" over time (yeah, right). I can even make the skunk drop dead now (I tried it out when it sprayed Temari during her award ceremony—it worked like a charm, but was Temari gratified? Nooooo—she was all like, "Ew! That's disgusting, Gaara! Go throw it in a trashcan!").
Naruto quickly composes himself, though the occasional laughter-induced twitch still appears every once in a while as he speaks.
"Aw, come off it, Gaara! You know what I meant!"
I did know what he meant.
It didn't mean I had to like it.
"Look, just because Sasuke has taken a liking to our new band manager doesn't give you the right as his ex-boyfriend to go and hound the poor man down." Before Naruto can interrupt, I continue, "'Hound' as in, making lewd jokes, spilling coffee on his new shirt, making generally teasing-yet-nasty comments, pulling his hair and, by the way, hiding his art kit."
Naruto's eyes bulged out. "How did you know I was the one that had stolen his art kit? And I didn't pull his hair!"
"You attempted to cut it, dropped your scissors, and pulled his hair in an attempt to catch yourself from falling." I remind him. He scowls.
"Plus, I'm pretty damn sure if you tried to get over the 'Oh, no, he's dating my ex-boyfriend' factor, you two could be pretty good friends. And, by the way, may I remind you that Sasuke has stopped ragging on us since he first pulled that 'Oops I accidentally tripped on an imaginary tile and landed in your arms' trick at the executive party last week?"
Naruto's face has twisted into a sort of pout. "Man, you're like a sponge. You're even starting to sound like Neji, now."
I gave him another less-murderous glare, lift the last damn cardboard box into the U-Haul, and face Kankuro, who's sobbing.
I lift a brow as my brother manages to dirty up his shirt by using it wipe the tears from his eyes, revealing his stomach in the process. He even blows his nose on the thing.
"…….Kankuro, I'm going to go live in the University dorm. It's no big deal."
"No big deal?! My little bro is going off into the world of the big, bad, and perverted, and you're saying it's no big deal?!" I sigh. "And why can't you stay at home? I mean, Temari and I stay at home! We're all going to the same university! Why, oh why, are you leaving us?!"
"Says the man who told me he wanted me to die two years ago?" Kankuro shoots me an indignant look. "And besides, as you said, we all go to the same university. We're even taking the same Chinese class, for goodness' sake. And I'm moving out 'cause I finally got a dorm with Naruto (after bribing the dormitory people) and don't want to be like you and let everyone else in the whole damn house know exactly what's going on in the bedroom. Now help me close these doors." He scowls.
Damn Naruto. I am starting to sound like Neji.
"Gaara!" Naruto runs up to me, waving two letters in front of my nose, "Before I forget, Neji told me to give these to you last time we met, since you weren't there and all because of that CEO meeting you had…" Speaking of the Hyuuga.
I grab the letters and stuff them in my back pocket, taking one last look at the flat I've lived in for the past six years.
A lot of things have changed.
Neji attends Stanford and mails me regularly. The whole gang gets together at the old ice cream parlor, for old time's sake, once a month, due to busy schedules and part-time jobs, though all of us keep in touch via mail, IM and sticky notes attached to the forehead (Naruto's brilliant idea of a wake-up call).
Sasuke has finally gotten over his sort-of grudge on me for "stealing" Naruto (even though Naruto had convinced him to help him "get" me) and has instead gotten a crush on our band manager, Sai. Hatake-san's way of trying to help us get more organized and focused.
"So maybe your band has now turned into a hobby," he had said, "but that's still no excuse to not do any gigs anymore. I mean, you're the guys who went through the Battle of the Bands without getting the critics to beat you to a pulp. That's enough, in my eyes. I've got another student of mine who's real good with connections—he can help you find gigs and edit your lyrics and the like. I'll hook you guys up, if you want."
Thus, Sai came into our group. Sort of.
We still have yet to invite him to our wonderful ice cream expeditions, for instance.
After I took the shaky position as CEO of Suna Tech, I've depended a lot on Yashamaru, who had held that position for the past six years. He's been a huge help, and though we don't talk often, I think the rift between us is getting thinner. Of course, Baki popping up every now and then to check up on my uncle is comforting in its own ways as well.
Itachi has become my financial rival, though he still gropes me just to kick out of my expression. I'll get him back for doing that in front of the whole board of directors, though. Mark my words. Sabaku no Gaara's going to haunt you to your grave. Insert evil laughter here.
Temari's still seeing Shikamaru, Kiba and Hinata are attached to the hip and Lee still sends Neji a bouquet of roses and a declaration of love every single week at exactly the same time in the morning. Scary, I know. Neji thinks it's "sweet".
Neji thinks anything related to Lee is sweet.
Sasuke is still staying at his brother's house and is only going to the University for his undergraduate's degree—according to him, he's aiming for bigger and better things for his bachelor's and possibly master's. Whatever. I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up in a Columbia school in the end, but that's in the future and is not in concern at the moment.
I, myself, have decided to improve my math, art and science in hopes that I can possibly "work up" to my uncle's standards for success. I won't be any help if I can't understand half of what the board is saying, for instance. I'm taking Chinese because all good businessmen need to know Japanese and Chinese and, since I'm already fluent in Japanese, that only leaves one language left.
Naruto's going into music as his major, which means he seriously needs to learn his technique. He's been spending most of his summer alternating between seeing me/doing stuff with me (cough) and sitting in a deep dark hole with Hatake-san, pouring over volumes and volumes of technique.
I've spent my summer going on family trips (the whole family… Temari, Kankuro, Baki, Yashamaru and I), spending time/doing stuff with Naruto (cough, cough), doing community service (yes… community service. Even after I got into the university. Better do it now then later for my graduate schools), working my part-time job and full-time job while I still can before I get back to school (in which Yashamaru will become a sort of part-time regent and it'll become my second part-time job) at the university.
Life changes. Life goes on. Life moves forward.
"Gaara, get into the truck before you're freaking left behind! And tell your boyfriend to drive his own car!" I scowl and give Naruto a slightly shy, brisk kiss on the cheek. Affection in Public is not my forte. Naruto has the guts to pinch my butt, and I glare at him with the same sex-depriving look I had shot him earlier. He gives me a mock puppy-eyed lock and I smile at him.
I don't think I can ever really hate Naruto. Really.
"Shut up, Kankuro, I'm coming."
One step backward. Two steps forward. I haul myself into the U-Haul, give Kankuro a glance and throw him a thumbs-up.
I say in a dead monotone, "Let's get rocking."
He smiles. "Right with you, bro!"
And we did.
...and now, it is truly the end! Good bye!