Summery: Lee is a little too touchy-feelly but Gaara doesn't seem to mind.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
The silence between the two boys was comfortable but, nevertheless, Lee wanted to say something.
"Please help yourself to another dango, Gaara-kun," he said, taking a sip of his tea. He had bought a box full of fresh dango but so far the red-headed boy only politely nibbled on one. Lee didn't think it was because Gaara was shy. He knew most shinobi don't like to eat in front of people expect the ones they knew well. Eating was a sign of weakness and proved that underneath the hard facade, the shinobi was actually just an ordinary human. But Lee didn't care about protocol right now. He had been working out all day and he was starving and he wanted Gaara to feel at ease.
Gaara nodded in reply, arms unfolding, and Lee took drink. It was a start. When Lee reached over to help himself to another dumpling their fingers brushed by accident. Gaara's pale hand withdrew immediately as if he'd been shocked.
"Sorry, Gaara-kun," Lee replied quickly, offering an embarrassed smile.
The boy stared at him dubiously, silent, but Lee could knew that Gaara was thinking. He just wasn't voicing his thoughts. Lee grinned harder. It was hard to understand but Lee really wanted to bring Gaara out of his shell. He wanted Gaara to understand that it was normal to eat dango with another person outside in the nice weather. It was normal to be comfortable around another person.
After a long moment, Gaara finally moved again and his small hand grabbed one of the many dango-filled skewers. "Thanks."
"Not at all, Gaara-kun," Lee said, smiling. He grabbed his own and started to munch happily. Normally he didn't indulge his sweet tooth like this but this was a rare occasion. He just hoped that Gai-sensei wouldn't find out.
Silence came again. Lee chewed his dango but his eyes kept wandering towards the other boy picked at his snack, once again ignoring his company. Despite its appearance, his skin felt rough and hard when Lee had touched him. It was unusual. Gaara's skin looked as if it were porcelain. Lee expected it to feel like it too. Unlike Lee, he didn't have to train at the expense of his own body because he had the sand to protect him.
"Have you tried lotion?"
Pale green eyes glanced over to him. "Excuse me?"
"Lotion." God, he hoped Suna knew of lotion or else Lee would end up looking like an idiot just like the time he asked Temari if she knew how to swim. Helplessly, he pointed to Gaara's hands. "For your skin? It felt kind of rough."
Now that his thoughts were finally spoken, it occurred that it sounded rather rude. Lee paled. God, why was he so horrible at basic protocol? "Sorry, Gaara-kun, that was..."
"It's not my skin."
"It's my sand."
Lee gaped at him, eyes feeling impossibly huge. "You're wearing it...even now?" Didn't that jutsu require large amounts of chakra? It seemed unnecessary when he was in a village of an ally.
Gaara remained impassive. "I always wear it."
Lee continued to gape. He couldn't help it. He hoped that Gaara would understands that it was merely interest of the behalf of his new friend instead of morbid curiosity because he was some alien monster.
"Even when you wash?"
There was a slight quiver in Gaara's brow. "I remove it then."
"Oh. It must be uncomfortable."
Only a little shrug. He was probably used to it by now just like the way Lee was used to the weights on his legs. He'd forget they were there until his bed gave out under the pressure.
"It only touches my hands and face."
"Then the rest of it covers your clothes and hair?"
"No wonder you look so pale! It's just the sand."
Lee grinned, feeling a huge pressure coming off his chest. They were finally talking!
"So you always wear it?"
Lee thought about this new information as he ate some more dango. Gaara went came to ignoring him. "So...do you ever show your real skin?"
Lee tried to imagine what it would feel like-always being covered with sand and clothes. He figured it would be like some sort of scuba suit. A wet scuba suit so that it just clings to every part of the body.
"Can I see?"
That sounded weird but Lee couldn't help it. Gaara was so interesting. At least the sand shinobi didn't act like he was weirded out or tease Lee like some people do or kill him for his impertinence. He just sighed, a little annoyed, and asked, "Why?"
Gaara stared at him for a long moment, eyes unblinking and steady. Lee tried not to squirm. Finally Gaara shifted and looked away. His eyes closed and his smooth brow wrinkled from concentration as Lee watched in amazement as his white skin and clothes turned into golden colored sand. It slipped away like water into the large gourd to Gaara's side.
Lee stared at Gaara. Unlike before now his skin looked normal. It wasn't the color of porcelain anymore. It was pale, yes, but it was also a little pink. Like a newborns. Without the sand, his face looked even younger, more child-like. His lips looked pinker and more defined and his cheeks were flushed. The dark rings around his eyes now appeared to be more like awful black bruises. His hair was on fire it was so red.
Without thinking, Lee lifted his fingers to Gaara's face and brushed the backs of them against the tender flesh. He expected Gaara to protest or the sand to snap at him but Gaara didn't say anything. He looked away, his eyelids lowering delicately. He was incredibly still.
Lee was transfixed. Gaara's skin felt so unbelievably soft that Lee was afraid that his own calloused fingers would hurt him. He felt warm too.
Gaara reached up and wrapped his hand around Lee's as if to push him away but the pressure never came. Lee's attention was diverted to the hand that held his. The nails were short but glossy and his fingertips were rosy. It was smaller compared to his and very childlike – hardly the hand of a self-proclaimed monster or a teenager.
Lee withdrew his hand quietly. He definitely playing with fire here but Gaara didn't seem angry with him. Just a little stunned.
In silence, the sand slowly slipped out of the gourd and covered Gaara in a blanket of gold before changing color. His skin was once more white and his hair muted into a much more safer shade of red.
"Your hair...I didn't know it was that...bright."
Gaara sent him a look, brimming with bitterness.
"I didn't mean it was bad or anything. It's really pretty. I guess the sand is darker so you won't be an easy target?"
Gaara nods. "Not that it makes any difference."
It was awkward now and Lee didn't like it. But he knew Gaara had shown him something amazing and he cherished it. Smiling, he grabbed the box of dango and offered it to his friend.
"Please have some more, Gaara-kun."