Summary: It was an anonymous letter written to pass the time. He hadn't even meant to give it to him. But then he did, and that's when the trouble began. NaruGaara. Yaoi. AU.
Warning(s): Rating may go up. (After careful consideration, I'm fairly sure it will); sensitive issues.
(or "A Strong Warning Against the Act of Written Anonymity")
"There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness."
He had a very charming mouth…
I can't explain it. Haven't you ever noticed a particular attribute about a person that reason could not describe?
Except he was a he, and I was a he, and so this presented a bit of a problem.
Chapter 1: First Sight
Naruto didn't know what compelled him to do it.
He had been sitting in class, staring out the window, not even bothering to pay attention to the student who currently had the floor. It was a joyful day of presentations at Konoha High, but his attention was elsewhere. He watched the students outside who were currently engaged in a fierce soccer match. How lucky they were—to be free. Okay, so maybe "free" was stretching it, but at least they weren't crammed up in a small classroom, being forced to listen to student after student, all of whom didn't want to be there anyway. Life is fun that way.
He yawned and stretched, bringing himself to glimpse around the classroom for the second time in a fifty-minute period. Still boring. One row ahead, Sasuke glanced back and glared, silently inferring with his sable eyes that the blond should have been paying attention. Naruto merely stuck out his tongue and smirked, exaggerating another yawn and resting his cheek in his palm.
The student in front rambled on and on, shifting this way and that and occasionally doing his best to fake nonverbal communication. At least this guy was mildly amusing. But, as soon as Naruto started to pay attention, the guy finished up, collecting his papers and taking a seat.
"Next up is…" The older man up front—their amazingly enthused English teacher, also known as Kakashi-sensei—scanned his class list until his thin finger ceased on a new name. "Ah, yes. Gaara," he said, squinting up at the class. "You're up."
Naruto's mind skimmed through the information in his brain, idly searching for the name. Gaara. It didn't ring a bell. He stared ahead until a student nearer to the front finally stood, paper in hand, before approaching the podium to present to the class. He was of a good height, Naruto considered, before almost laughing out loud at the attention-deficit musing. Waiting until midnight the previous night to write his own paper was definitely taking its toll.
"All right," Kakashi said, when Gaara seemed situated, "Proceed when ready."
Gaara didn't nod. He didn't even say "okay". He did nothing to indicate that he understood what the educator had said, or that he could even comprehend human language. Naruto liked that.
"Very well," Gaara finally said, glancing about the room momentarily. "I decided to write my paper on the use of enjambment within Emily Dickinson's poetry."
Naruto pursed his lips, for lack of anything better to do, and turned his attention back to the pseudo-soccer-team outside, cheek still resting in his hand. He didn't know Gaara. Gaara was not like his friend Sasuke, whom he would at least have paid attention to out of a kind of respect. Gaara was essentially no one, and a nobody had no room in Naruto's already brimming mind.
So what was it, then?
Why on earth did this nobody named Gaara have such a penetrating voice? Naruto tried to focus his thoughts on the kids outside the window, but now he found he could not. That blasted voice! There was nothing even particularly special about it, either. It was an inch away from being rather monotone, if not for the fleeting moments of emphasis and emotion. Very slight emotion. Very slight…something else.
Finally bringing himself to look at his previously unknown classmate, Naruto was slightly dumbfounded. There was absolutely nothing special about this Gaara character, save for the fact that he had no eyebrows and still managed to make the trend look decent. He had brick-red hair that almost looked like he had cut it himself, but heaven forbid if he didn't make that look good, too. Naruto looked away again. What a weird thought. What a very weird thought. Even as he tried his hardest to focus on the events outside of the window, for the first time that evening, he actually felt like paying attention.
Ruffling his blond hair, Naruto drummed his fingers silently on his desk, before resigning himself to doodling. His hand leisurely wove about the page, pen in hand, before he decided to give up on that, too.
"Such lines really convey feelings of helplessness or vulnerability," Gaara's voice tore into Naruto's thoughts, taking over completely. He continued to sketch, before actually looking at his artwork.
Suddenly, his breath hitched. It was loud enough for the students in his immediate vicinity to turn and face him, curious as to what was the matter. Ignoring them, Naruto stared in shock at the puzzling, four-letter word that now marred his homework's surface.
Naruto hesitantly looked up, his newfound, worst fears coming to fruition. Teal. His eyes were teal. Gaara had teal eyes. Naruto. His paper. Naruto's paper that was due before the end of the period now had said Gaara's eye color artfully drawn in the left margin. Today truly was a joyous day. Holding his face in his hands, he really tried not to rip his hair out.
"Is something wrong, Uzumaki-kun?" the teacher's voice trailed throughout the classroom.
Naruto nearly jumped at his name, straightening up in his chair immediately and trying to look attentive. Instead, he looked like he had just been caught sleeping. "Wrong? No," he said with a nervous laugh. "It's just such a great presentation…"
The instructor adjusted his glasses, eyebrows knitting together to form an odd glare, even with one eye veiled. "While your presence is appreciated, Mr. Uzumaki, your sarcasm is not. Please pay attention."
Naruto leered as Sasuke's chuckle also carried back. He hadn't meant to sound sarcastic; it just came out that way. Then again, he hadn't meant to write down a perfect stranger's eye color, but that's what happened. Slumping down in his chair, he glanced at the clock, glad that the period was almost over. As he faced forward, he realized that Gaara had yet to proceed. No, he was looking toward Naruto's corner of the room. Wait, he was looking at Naruto. Those teal eyes were currently boring into Naruto's own, a veiled emotion in their sapphire-emerald depths. Upon closer inspection, anyone could tell that emotion was annoyance. Naruto had, after all, interrupted his presentation. Still, having such a strong gaze meet his own made Naruto so unconsciously nervous that his right hand covered up his paper. Gaara's mouth was parted slightly, as if he was still mid-sentence, before he broke the contact and continued his vocalizations.
Uncanny. Time had seemed to stop in that moment, but in reality, only a few seconds had gone by. No one else had seemed to notice, but Naruto could do little else than pay it mind. But something else had invaded his thoughts—something uniquely foreign.
Gaara's mouth. Greatness-be-damned if he wasn't staring at it now. Naruto wasn't sure why, but he was definitely positive he had found minute fascination in the subtle shift of Gaara's parted lips as he went from silence to sound. He was also definitely positive that such thoughts were odd, and moreover unacceptable. Guys did not think that way about other guys. More specifically, straight guys did not think that way about other guys. Naruto considered himself straight…Very straight. He even liked a girl, imagine that. Her name was Haruno Sakura, and though she was very popular and lived but a block away from him growing up, she hardly paid him the time of day. And if she did, it was quite clear that she only had friendship in mind for a one Uzumaki Naruto.
T his class is
E ating my soul
A s I suffer through
L ife's oddities.
Naruto wasn't sure at what point in his random thoughts he had thrown together the acrostic, but it made him smile, nonetheless. Too bad the base word was the eye-color of the guy whose mouth he was currently obsessed with.
NO. He was not obsessed. It was just a random enthrallment, and Naruto was clear to straighten that out in his mind. Well, as straight as possible. He was glad that writing out his thoughts helped to lessen the tension of his brain somewhat. His pen continued to jot down his reflections (on a new sheet of paper) until they started to form sentences. The sentences soon evolved into higher thought that took on the look of blank verse. Poetry was his outlet. Yes, the goofiest kid in school actually liked to write every once in a while. But, this was something he kept mostly to himself. Sasuke knew and even he, his closest friend, chided Naruto about it on occasion.
That was when the letter began. He wasn't sure when it had started to take shape, but before he knew it, Naruto was writing a letter to a boy he knew absolutely nothing about, save for the color of his eyes. Sasuke would definitely love this. Naruto could already hear his sarcastic remarks. And the questions. Definitely the questions. Inquiries into his true sexuality, perhaps? But Naruto was straight! He would defend that to the end. He just couldn't go more than a minute without glancing up at the red-haired, teal-eyed, good-heighted, nice-mouthed Gaara.
Sasuke would most definitely mock him. And endlessly, at that.
Your hair is nice,
Like cinnamon spice—
He quickly omitted that random outpouring of trite (and comical) description, once again looking up at Gaara. His lips moved, but Naruto didn't pay attention to the sound. Instead, he found himself engrossed in the way Gaara's lips formed each word, carefully expressing his thoughts perfectly. The sentences started to flow more easily from Naruto's pen this time, as he described with each line how he was not someone Gaara knew, but that they were drawn together by English class. The unstructured work was, in a way, addressed to Gaara, as Naruto put forth his contemplations. He even explained how he had tried to ignore Gaara, though that was obviously a failure.
But each time you spoke I found your words held much thought
And then I was caught.
Naruto's chin balanced on his palm as his eyes drifted back up to Gaara once again.
That's when I thought,
"Huh, he's tall…" And then,
"If he smiled, I'm sure it would be nice."
But that was all.
Until you spoke again.
His thoughts came much easier now as he dealt out his dilemma with his utensil. It was liberating to be able to express his feelings somehow, and as Gaara finished his explanation, so did Naruto, scribbling the last thought before finally setting down his pen.
Forget this dumb writer, who I am is obsolete.
Just know you are appreciated;
It couldn't get much more concrete.
Signed with a smile,
The one you'll never meet.
"Excellent job, Gaara," Kakashi praised, rising to his feet. Gaara simply bowed, handing him his paper before claiming his seat. "Next up…Naruto, you look oddly enthusiastic. Why don't you grace us with a presentation of your paper?"
Naruto paused, not at all prepared for such a request. "No, you—you misunderstood, you see—I—," he stumbled over his thoughts, the words not coming together as well as they had moments before on paper. "Well—it's just—"
'Actually, I was just excited about this poem that I had just finished about Gaara.' Yeah…right…He wasn't too sure how well that would fly. Releasing a weary breath, he stood, bringing his paper and self to the front of the room. Thankfully, his sudden fascination seemed to have faded out. Writing always helped him to sort his thoughts out. Talking in front of the class was another matter. Right as he found himself at the podium, sporting a feigned smile and air of enthusiasm, the bell rang.
"Yes!" Naruto couldn't help but say, shooting a fist into the air. A few of the students up front laughed, while the rest merely shook their heads, not at all surprised by their classmate's unveiled behavior.
"Yes, yes, Uzumaki-kun," Kakashi rolled his eyes. "You're free this time. Hand me your paper if you'd like me to grade it."
Naruto skipped over to him and thrust the paper into his hands. "Here ya go! I worked hard, so be sure to give me the amazing grade I deserve, teach'!" he said with a smirk and a wink.
Kakashi simply took the paper, clearly not amused, before glancing down at it and frowning. "'Teal'?"
Before Kakashi could say anything more, Naruto ripped the paper from his hands before he could utter even a syllable of any other blasted color of the planet. In lightning speed, he blotched out the word, leaving a rather unattractive (not to mention huge) blob of ink on the left margin of his paper. He glanced up, but Gaara had not yet left the classroom. Of course. He was just brimming with luck today. Trying to be nonchalant, Naruto watched as Gaara soundlessly gathered his books and made his way out of the classroom. He could only pray that the teal-eyed student had not heard Kakashi. Before he had completely disappeared, Gaara did glance back at Naruto once.
"What an idiot," his eyes seemed to say. Scratch that; more like, "What a complete and utter numskull." Naruto was just glad he didn't suspect anything.
"Ignore that," Naruto said with a cavalier wave of his hand, placing the paper back in his confused teacher's grasp. Gaara was finally gone. "Just doodling, you know how kids are these days…"
Kakashi just stared at him, clearly worrying about his mental health. "Kids these days…Riiight…Naruto, are you okay?"
"Yeah, of course," he said, inching away. "But I'm hungry now, so I'll catch you later." His fake smile never once left his face. Grabbing his bag and slinging it over his shoulder, Naruto waved until he had disappeared from the classroom. Kakashi just stared at him the entire time, one brow elevated, the other hidden by an eye patch. Just when he was about to turn to his desk, Naruto popped back in once more.
"It meant nothing," he added, fingers drumming oddly on his chin. "Just…doodling…"
Kakashi peered at him before looking momentarily at the paper with a grin. "If my class is actually eating your soul, one could argue that it probably means something."
Naruto gasped and looked like he wanted to say something, before forfeiting and leaving in an embarrassed huff. Marvelous. Simply marvelous.
"…So…" Sasuke said, regarding Naruto suspiciously. "You're telling me that you…wrote a..."
"Poem," Naruto finished, nodding in such a way that he was able to express his own confusion at his unexplainable actions.
"Right…" Sasuke's brows elevated, before he once again narrowed his gaze, carefully sounding the words out. "A poem…about…"
"Gaara, yes," Naruto once again added, saying what his friend found obvious difficulty in expressing. "But anyway, isn't this pork bun delicious?" He seemed to look at his meal and nod satisfactorily, as if he had just granted the pork bun permission to enter his mouth.
"Naruto…" Sasuke continued, folding his hands together. "You tell me that you—", he dragged the words out, "—wrote a poem about—about Gaara, of all people, and you don't expect me to be just a—," he reiterated his words by bringing his index finger and thumb very close together, "—just a tad confused?"
Naruto's eyes wandered from Sasuke's to some place in the upper, right-hand corner of the cafeteria. "Hmmmmmm—no." And then he took a hearty bite of the steaming roll in his hand. "What I did expect you to do," Naruto said, after chewing and swallowing, "was to, oh, I don't know, support me? You could at least hide your shock a little."
The corners of Sasuke's mouth were starting to turn upward, however slightly. "You expect me…to support you…," and then the wayward chuckle broke out, "for writing a poem about Gaara? Forgive me if my confusion seems slightly displaced, but," he didn't hide his overly-delighted smile. "But you wrote a poem about Gaara." And then he burst out laughing. Sasuke didn't laugh much, he didn't even smile much, but when he did, one knew he was genuinely amused.
Naruto could only narrow his gaze. "I knew I shouldn't have told you. Yeah, laugh it up. You are impossible to talk to!"
"Naruto, I'm sorry," Sasuke said between laughs, honestly trying to compose himself. "It's just…well, you wrote a poem about Gaara." And the laughter erupted again.
All around, girls nearly swooned at the sight of their beloved Sasuke laughing. Their jealousy at Naruto's ability to transform their usually stoic schoolmate caused many to develop a dislike of poor Naruto. That wasn't to say that they all disliked him; Naruto had his own small fan-base, for he was, after all, quite tall, and, despite his penchant for tomfoolery, he was an extremely kind and good-natured seventeen-year-old. The only problem was, despite his sizeable following, he couldn't get the one girl he liked to look his way for more than a few seconds. And he wrote poems about guys he didn't know. And his best friend found all of this profoundly hilarious.
Annoyed, Naruto rose from his chair. "You suck, Sasuke. You really suck," he said, as if he was discovering it for the first time. Making his way toward the cafeteria exit, he tried not to look as exasperated as he felt. He had barely made it halfway when Sasuke was at his side.
"Naruto, I'm sorry," he said, the remnants of his enjoyment still present in the form of a small smirk. "But you have to admit, it is a little bit funny."
Naruto glanced at him momentarily before facing forward. "Hilarious," he said flatly.
"No, seriously," Sasuke said, once they were in the nearly-vacant hall. "You're right," he agreed, looking rather sober. "I should have supported you. I'm sorry." Raising a brow, he extended his palm. "Let me read it?"
Naruto looked distrustfully at his hand, before pulling the folded loose-leaf from his pocket. "You're right," he said with a half-smirk, "…It is a little bit funny."
Sasuke mirrored his expression before taking the paper and unfolding it. Glancing downward, Naruto watched as his eyes scanned over the words, and he felt nervous for some inexplicable reason. Finally, Sasuke stopped, pausing for a moment before folding the paper back up and handing it back to his friend.
Naruto couldn't help but blink. "…Well?"
Sasuke faced him with unreadable ebony eyes. "It's good," he finally said, nodding slightly.
"It's very, very good."
Naruto couldn't help but blush slightly as he rubbed the back of his head. "Not really."
"No, it is," Sasuke repeated, and Naruto could tell that he was sincere. "I just have one question."
Sasuke looked like he was trying to analyze him. "Are you gay?"
"No!" Naruto exclaimed avidly, Sasuke taking great enjoyment in his apparent frustration. "I love girls. Only girls. I just…" he paused, struggling to think of the right words to say.
Sasuke tried to finish it for him. "Just…write poems about guys?"
Naruto was getting upset again, even though that was the only way to really explain it. Because that was the only way was what upset him the most. "I can't explain it, okay? I just had to do it. It's over now, anyway."
"Naruto," Sasuke said after a bit. "I know you're not gay. What I do know, however, is how extremely easy it is to mess with you."
They both started walking, as it was drawing nearer to the end of the lunch period. More students were crowding into the hall at any rate, and such a conversation would create slight havoc if it got out. They didn't say much as they strolled down the hall; the only sound really came from the constant humming of Naruto's fingers as he dragged them across the lockers to his right.
At one point, Sasuke glanced over, somewhat absorbed by the calming sound. "Hey look," he said abruptly, stopping in his tracks.
Naruto halted with him, before his gaze followed Sasuke's. It landed on his hand. Wait, no, it was above his hand.
Right on the name "Gaara".
Reflexively, Naruto pulled his hand back. A part of him said that it was just Gaara's locker, but the other part said that it was just Gaara's locker. It was not decorated like the others around it, but it still held some lingering quality, like he had made an everlasting impression upon it.
"How weird," Sasuke commented, still staring at the temporary nameplate. "I didn't know he was a junior like us…"
"I guess so," said Naruto, taking a step back. "Let's just go."
But Sasuke remained rooted where he stood. And then, very casually, he inquired, "Aren't you going to give it to him?"
Naruto's head snapped in his direction, clear-blue eyes alive with disbelief. "Are you crazy? Why on earth would I give it to him?"
Sasuke boldly met his gaze. "Why not?"
"For a million reasons, Sasuke," Naruto stated, as though he should have known it. "For one, it's stupid."
"It's actually well-written."
"He's a guy."
"Just like any other classmate."
"He would know!"
"It's anonymous," Sasuke said succinctly. "He would never know."
Naruto was getting rather angry again, not because of how preposterous the idea seemed, but because it actually seemed reasonable. Blast it all; this was madness! The hall was even oddly empty at that time, almost asking him to do it.
"There's nothing on that piece of paper to incriminate you," continued Sasuke. "You can just slip it in, walk away, and indirectly tell him how you feel. In the end, he never knows who it's from, you can clear your mind, and everyone walks away happy."
Naruto chewed on his lower lip, carefully going over his words. No matter how he looked at it, "indirectly tell him how you feel" sounded really…gay. But, it also seemed like closure to this afternoon's little adventure. Maybe if he did go through with Sasuke's suggestion and got rid of it, he would be able to free it from his mind and never think about it again. Except to laugh. Post-laughter is always good.
"It's up to you," Sasuke shrugged, securing his hands in his pockets.
Naruto pulled the poem out again, but did not unfold it. Holding up the square piece of parchment, he brought it close to his face, then held it at arms length before shoving it into the small vent on Gaara's locker. "Let's just go," he said quickly, before Sasuke could say anything. Speed-walking had never felt so natural.
Sasuke only smirked, easily matching his stride and patting the blond on the back. "You'll be glad you did that."
Naruto didn't look back. He sincerely hoped with all his might that Sasuke would be right.
He had slept perfectly that night. Naruto had never experienced such a placid sleep in a very long time. He woke up before his alarm, arrived early to school, and had even finished his homework on time. After slipping the note into the locker, Naruto never thought about it again, or about the teal eyes which had enchanted him just one day prior.
That was why he was extremely confused and extremely horrified when he found said teal-eyed-stranger leaning by his locker the next day. Gaara didn't see him at first, so Naruto considered the option of pivoting and running away. This didn't work for two reasons. Reason the first, Naruto couldn't bring himself to look away. His sight was glued to the red-haired teen, more out of overwhelming bewilderment than allure this time. Even in his fear, he was able to finally get a more close-up view of him. Even his lean figure was somehow unique. His arms were crossed loosely in front of him, the heel of his right foot just barely touching Naruto's locker. He made the school uniform look good. Definitely eyebrowless, definitely thin (though this realization was rather new), and definitely…something else. Naruto decided rather quickly that that "something else" was bad, and he did not want his mind to linger on it.
Reason the second, Gaara had already noticed him standing there. His level turquoise gaze seemed to hold Naruto prisoner, before he blinked and the magic was gone. Straightening, Gaara uncrossed his arms, closing the distance between them with each agonizing step. Why did they have to be alone in the hallway? Naruto wasn't that early was he? Or maybe he was. He didn't know anything anymore. All he knew was that the stranger whom he had written an anonymous poem to was now less than a foot away from him.
When Gaara pulled the crumpled paper from his pocket, it was by some unknown force that Naruto did not pass out then and there. Or run. Or laugh hysterically. Or any combination of the three. Gaara held the folded paper between his index and middle finger and just barely tapped it against Naruto's chest. Even through his navy vest and white button-up, Naruto could swear his skin was burning.
That mouth, that cursèd mouth which had started this whole ordeal, twitched at one corner, before the faintly pink lips parted. If he had eyebrows, Naruto could imagine that one would probably be arched. His eyes were darkly rimmed, the black fading into the pale complexion of his skin. He looked so much better up close.
He also looked mildly perturbed. "Uzumaki Naruto, right?" Gaara asked, finally speaking up.
Naruto swallowed hard, and prayed that his voice would work. "…Yes." It actually came out sounding much more calm and unaltered that he had bargained for. "Anything I can help you with?"
"There is…" Gaara pulled the letter back, but didn't look at it once. Even an inch or so shorter that Naruto, his penetrating gaze more than made up for his height. "You can tell me why, Uzumaki Naruto, you put this in my locker."
"You'll be glad you did that."
Sasuke's words reverberated through his mind, and Naruto decided that if he made it away from this confrontation alive, he was definitely going to kill Sasuke.
Well, I did it. I literally got the inspiration to write this story during my 9am Anthropology class today/(yesterday). I can't believe I wrote this when I still have an analytical paper to write tonight. And it's much longer than I had intended—roughly 2,000 words longer. And it's 2:05am (please forgive and alert me of any errors). But, at least my mind is at peace, though Naruto looks to be not so lucky…
Drop me a review? Though I have four papers due next week, they may prove inspiring (as they always do :D). Until next chapter!