Sorry. Slight nicotine overdose.
Okay, this is the THIRD story in this fucking epic.
Much love to all those who've stuck with me so far!!!
Now, this one will have mpreg. In case you're one of those who'll press the back button because of that, then I'm disappointed in you, because obviously I can't stick with a plot strand enough to have only one in a fic and just as obviously mpreg won't be all there is to this story.
And the title is courtesy of lonelycandyangel's brilliance!!!!!! Even though she doesn't even like mpreg!!! So give her a round of applause!
Randomness: Die Toten Hosen, 'Bonnie und Clyde'.
"Hey, kid, leave the food out, okay? I've got a new model coming over later."
Naruto nodded and grinned. "Sure, Anko."
The painter settled back into her blankets and pillows and tossed back a swig of rum, grimacing as she swallowed. The canvas before her was layered in blues and blacks, and it looked like a mottled bruise. A pack of ready-made dango lay next to her, already half-empty.
Naruto looked around the sprawling room critically. Every second day he came here and folded and sorted all of Anko's stuff, put it away, cleaned the floors and the toilet niche, and usually ended up cooking lunch. He was out by two in the afternoon, after which he went up to the fourth floor and cleaned one of the other apartments, which belonged these two guys who smoked weed as if it ran through their veins.
The room was spotless, except for the area around Anko's couch and the canvas—Naruto wasn't allowed near there with his cleaning stuff.
"All right, then I'm off," he said.
Anko nodded and gestured lazily to one corner of the couch, where a ten-cel-chip lay—she always rounded his pay, the people in this building really had to have serious cash—and turned back to glaring at her painting. She was wearing the loose, threadbare tan sweater that she always had on, and blue silk boxers. "Yeah, get out."
The blonde just laughed, slipped the chip into his jeans pocket and picked up the cleaning stuff, going to the entrance area and putting it all away. He slipped on his shoes and his jacket and pulled the heavy, screeching sliding door open and then closed it again behind him.
He swung nimbly onto the ladder—in the almost four months he'd been working in here, he'd slowly gotten used to the rickety and rather dangerous-seeming state everything was in.
All the apartments belonged to either painters or sculptors, except for the second on the ground floor, where a choleric author lived—Naruto had cleaned Anko's place once while he was in one of his rages, and it had been pretty funny. Scary, but funny.
He stepped onto the walkway and walked down to the second door, knocking. Loud old rock was pounding through the metal of the entrance, and it took Naruto two more poundings before the door slid open with a pitiful creak. A dark man with spiky mussed hair peered out at him. His eyes were bloodshot from pot, and he stared at Naruto curiously for a few moments before it clicked and, "Oh...hi. Come in, come in."
Naruto bit back a laugh and slipped through the door. He'd been cleaning here for two months now—Anko had said these guys had been looking for a cleaner, and he'd just gone up and asked one day—and every time he came it was the same. Whichever one opened the door, he would either be drunk or stoned or both out of his mind and it would take long seconds for him to recognize the blonde.
The apartment was the same basic set-up as Anko's, but the guys had sectioned off an atelier, a bedroom, and a bathroom. The kitchen was crammed into the entrance area, and Naruto always took his shoes off to the smell of the overflowing trashcan.
The doors to the atelier were always open, and Naruto could see the one who'd opened the door for him leaning against the door frame and heard him mutter slowly, "It's just the cleaner kid, Genma."
A soft grunt sounded from inside the studio and then, "Get back in here, Raidou... 'need to finish this sketch now."
"Sure, whateverrr..." Raidou muttered, and shuffled into the room.
Naruto loved watching them. So fucking funny.
He dragged out the broom, rags and the detergents, and half-cursed all these people for not investing in a vacuum cleaner. The kitchen machines that had been squeezed into the entrance area had been really, really filthy when Naruto's first cleaned here; it had almost reminded him of his Daddy's old place. No cockroaches, though.
He stretched and carried a bucket of hot water from the kitchen sink into the bedroom, starting to pick up all the tossed around clothes and trash. Clothes went into the big hamper the guys used as their closet, and trash went into a plastic bag Naruto'd brought from the entrance area.
The blonde worked quickly; he didn't mind doing this. It was a sort of drone job, mindless and relaxing. By now, what with cleaning Genma and Raidou's place as well, he earned almost two hundred and fifty cel a month... which was awesome. Still only around two-thirds of what he'd earned on Whore...
But then, this life had Gaara in it, and that was priceless.
Shino let a pair of bugs crawl over his wrist, and Ino squealed in disgust. "Shino!"
Kiba laughed raucously. "Man, you should be used to Shino's hobby by now."
Tenten leaned over and grinned, "Aw, come on, Ino can't help it that she's a girly girl."
Ino stuck out her tongue and took a swig of the wine bottle that was going around.
It was cool but not icy, and the winter wind had calmed down a few weeks ago, staying surprisingly steady since then. The Konoha's signs were blinking brightly, and the sky was a light, almost bright gray.
Shikamaru was listening to music, lying down and very quiet. Ino, Tenten, Kiba and Shino were all sitting in Ino and Tenten's little messy nest, now and then leaning out to pass the bottle on to Haku, Naruto and Sasuke, who were sitting on Sasuke's mattress and discussing cucumber salad.
It was late afternoon.
Haku and Sasuke were smoking, and with the weak wind it curled up towards the awning and dissipated slowly.
Sasuke inhaled deeply and held the smoke in, enjoying the fact that for once that act didn't force him to cough—the cold had been deadly for his throat. Haku and Naruto were arguing about how much sour cream one had to add for the right sourness of the salad.
The three or so months since the finalization of the divorce had been... well... nice.
All right, they had been very nice.
...they'd been wonderful.
The kids had warmed even more to him—which, in the case of Tsume, was quite a feat—and once Chouji had overcome his initial embarrassment about what had happened at Naruto's birthday party, they'd come to a sort of comfortable agreement.
Nothing had really changed there, unless it was for the better, and then Sasuke didn't really want to dissect it too deeply. It might hurt even more when it ended if he did that.
In the Konoha, not much had changed. Tenten was still with Temari, Lee was still spouting sappy sweetness about Neji... Shino and Kiba were the same strange couple that they had been before, and Kakashi and Iruka had only gotten more exhibitionist.
Sasuke started as a punch slammed into his shoulder, and Naruto's bright grin pierced his thoughts. "Oy, bastard—we're talking to you!"
"I know how to make cucumber salad, thank you very much."
"Oh really? How much sour cream do you add?" Haku asked sternly, his long beautiful hair falling over one shoulder. His huge dark eyes were warm and amused.
Haku had begun coming pretty regularly to visit the Konoha. He showed no sign of wanting to leave Slum—he just seemed to like the company here. He joked often that trying to find a decent conversation on Slum was like finding a needle in a haystack.
They continued deep in discussion about salt, pepper and oil or no oil, and Sasuke wondered what was wrong with him, alternating puffs from his cigarette with statements on cooking.
It was nice, though, with Ino and Tenten giggling in the background and Kiba and Shino making out, Shikamaru's calm expression unwavering to his right. And Haku and Naruto, golden and white, dark-haired and blonde, both beautiful in totally different ways, grinning at each other and joking about cucumber slices--
And a suit waiting for him every morning, warm and strong around him, silver hair soft on his face and hands supporting and demanding on his hips...
Really, Sasuke was happy.
Naruto stirred the soup and checked the light on the rice cooker.
Gaara should be home soon; he'd kept his current job for a pretty long time now, almost two months, and he usually came home at around eight. The clock on the oven said seven-fifty.
Naruto sighed and rolled his shoulders, one hand coming up under his T-shirt to slide over the ridges of his scar. He traced the old Eastern symbols with a slight smile, and then stirred the soup again. The earring ached in his earlobe—the weather made it do weird things.
He switched off the oven and put a lid onto the soup pot before collapsing into one of the kitchen chairs.
For the first week or so of working for Anko, Naruto had gotten home well and truly exhausted each evening—somehow, the whole 'real work' thing had been pretty shocking to him. Not that he hadn't cleaned a lot back when he'd lived with his father, but that had been different, somehow. And besides—he'd had a break of three years in between this and the last real cleaning he'd done.
He looked up when the front door clicked open, then shut again. By now, he was used to picking out the sounds of Gaara's entrance into the apartment.
He got up and leaned out the doorway, grinning. "Hey, Gaara."
The redhead's eyes flicked towards him, and warmed briefly before concentrating back on taking the thick boots off. Naruto watched him, smiling absently.
Gaara's hair had grown by a few centimeters, and it brushed over his ears now, still that bloody red and still sticking up in a forest of spikes. His skin was still the color of milk, and his narrow green eyes dragged Naruto down with even more force these days.
The redhead finished taking his shoes off, and stepped past Naruto into the kitchen. As he passed him, Naruto smelled concrete and dust and wood. "Gah, you stink." He laughed.
Gaara's lips twitched and he raised one unseen eyebrow. He reached out and kissed Naruto roughly, briefly.
The blonde sighed happily as the redhead broke the kiss, and just stood there for a few seconds. Then he jumped and said, "Right. Dinner."
Gaara chuckled softly and fell into a chair, his eyes heavy on Naruto's back as he spooned rice into bowls and soup into others.
He set the food down on the table and sat down across from Gaara, eating quickly and talking nonstop between swallows. "Haku and Zabuza are fighting a bit again. Not anything serious. But Haku had a bruise today, so... How're Kankuro and Ukon, by the way?"
Gaara finished a bite of rice and nodded slightly.
"So... did you have a nice day?"
Gaara almost shrugged, and Naruto laughed. He'd gotten used to very one-sided conversations at home. Not that he minded; more talking for him, after all. Even if Gaara talking was beyond sexy...
"Well, my day was pretty good, Anko seems to have fired her last model, err... I think her name was... Kurenai... she said a new one was coming over tonight, I'll probably see her tomorrow... The guys were stoned as fuck, as usual. I wonder what it's like to live in one of those things, though? I mean they take turns cooking for each other, and they have communal parties... must be kinda cool, actually."
Gaara had finished eating, and was watching him with a gleam of amusement in his oh-so-green eyes.
Naruto stopped talking and collected their plates. He grinned at Gaara over his shoulder. "You know, if you talked more, I wouldn't be blabbering so much."
Gaara almost smiled and stood, leaning down to suck at the sensitive spot on Naruto's collarbone. His teeth bit down hard the next second, and Naruto gasped sharply. Gaara reached down to hold his hips tightly, and maneuvered him out the door and through the corridor and into the bedroom.
Naruto laughed a little as he tumbled onto the futon, and then Gaara was over him and the knife was carving delicious fire into his skin.
Homg...°has just realized she's actually writing ANOTHER one...° well, that's the start. Sappy and all, I know. DRAMA will WHOOOOSH in the next chap.
Why're you laughing?! °whine°