Sometimes Uzumaki could be too much. Gaara knew his best friend was a famed prankster and thus far he had been remarkably tolerant of said friend's games. Hell, he didn't think it an exaggeration that he was downright saintly when it came to Uzumaki's "surprises." But this was fuckin' unforgivable.
This was worse than the time Naruto set his homepage to gay porn the day his coworkers came over for a meeting, or the time all his passwords were changed to profanity and Gaara had to explain to the IT that no, IfckLilBoys was not his password. Those at least could be fixed with relative ease. At least he could get out of those on his own. But right now, Gaara couldn't even leave his own office. In fact, he didn't think he could maneuver enough to move more than three feet from his desk. He stared at his hands currently fanned over the keyboard- his thumbs firmly glued to the spacebar.
Gaara regretted the bottle of superglue he lent to Naruto for one of his art projects. He had seemed sincere enough when asking for it, lamb like innocence in his smile as he pleaded for help. Now Gaara realized his foolishness as he attempted to lift his hands once more.
Oh yeah. It was superglue.
After a few more attempts at freeing himself merely produced pain, Gaara threw his head back and let out a frustrated growl. Now was not a good time. He needed to send out emails tonight and finish up his report for tomorrow's meeting. He imagined explaining this to Naruto who would only shrug, laugh and say "You don't need your thumbs to type anyways."
But it was infuriating and disrespectful and Gaara couldn't concentrate on anything other than his desire to rip Uzumaki a new one. Whoever convinced him they would be good roommates could probably con the devil. Gaara snorted. That's right, he was talking about Uzumaki.
Gaara shook his head and took a deep breath. No, no, he was playing right into Uzumaki's hands. Uzumaki wanted to get under his skin and thus far, he was doing a beautiful job of it. Gaara had to play it cool. He had to let Uzumaki know that he wasn't going to get the upper hand. If that man thought his pranks were actually successful at driving Gaara crazy it would only be a matter of time before it became a source of leverage.
Gaara calmed his nerves and willed himself to breathe deeply. He wouldn't be able to use a mouse, but he knew enough hot keys that he could manage. He tried to focus on his screen, grateful for a moment that he had a small keyboard. It would make reaching keys uncomfortable, but much easier.
He focused on starting his report since e-mail would be a bit more of a challenge. And when his fingers ached from bending in unnatural positions, or he struggled to reach a key, he wished for nothing more than for his roommate to walk through that door so he could give him a piece of his mind. He tried to calm himself then, closing his eyes, willing the bad thoughts away and imagined walking on a beach, the feeling of sand beneath his feet calming him. When he was ready again he opened his eyes and resumed his report until the cycle continued again.
Eventually Uzumaki walked through the front door whistling cheerfully. "Gaaara, I'm home," he yelled. There seemed to be an extra ounce of excitement in his voice. Gaara ignored him as he always did and focused on his report. He typed away as quickly as possible, annoyed that he couldn't actually lift his thumbs, but thus far, he had managed, no matter how clumsily.
Naruto popped his head into the office, a bright grin on his face. "How was your day, Gaara? Did you finish up that report due tomorrow?"
"Fucker," he thought angrily, careful to appear cool and collected no matter how much Naruto egged him on. "I am working on it now," he replied, not bothering to look up at his roommate. He kept his eyes trained on the screen, hoping to shut him out.
"Oh?" he stepped closer. "How is that going? Almost done?" he said only too cheerfully.
"I am doing the best I can. I'm afraid I'll be at my computer all night. You'll have to eat dinner alone." He tried to sound matter of fact, as though nothing was wrong- just another unfortunate change in plans. However, Naruto didn't seem put out by this information. Indeed, he seemed positively delighted.
"Really? You can't join me?" he pouted. Gaara could hear the smile behind the fake pouting. "That's too bad," he lowered his head, hiding his expression. "And here I thought I'd surprise you," he shook his head. "A whole pizza and no one to share it with." Gaara's mouth dropped slightly open. He experienced an intense moment of shock followed by utter disbelief. He didn't… "I walked by Raw Foods today as I was walking home," Gaara's fingers began to clench. He tried to hammer out actual words and not just strings of angry gibberish. "And I thought, hey, isn't that Gaara's favorite restaurant? Doesn't he just drool at the mention of their goat cheese pizza?"
Gaara could feel color creeping into his face. He did not drool. But yes, Naruto was accurate in his assessment of Gaara's favorites. He could hear his stomach growl just thinking about it, his gut clenching in hunger pains at the thought of that delectable pizza no doubt sitting on the dining room table. It didn't help that he had skipped lunch.
"Sounds like you're pretty hungry," Naruto chuckled. "Couldn't you spare a few minutes? Just for one little slice?" Gaara's teeth clenched. He schooled his expression before looking up from his computer screen and shaking his head slowly.
"I wish I could, but I have very serious business to attend to." Hungry or no, he could wait it out. At some point Uzumaki had to relent and free him. He just had to. Gaara just needed to survive all these hurdles and needless jabs at fun. Gaara returned his gaze to the computer screen. He deleted the lines of letters strung together in his anger. He was trying to patiently wait for Naruto's next move, but the other man was quiet. "Naruto?" He looked up, surprised by the quiet, contemplative face. Whatever he had expected, it was not the genuine look of disappointment tugging down the corner of the other man's lips. "Just, save me a piece, okay?" He spoke gently. Though he really did mean it. That really was his favorite dish and it didn't come cheap. He was a little surprised Naruto would go so far.
The familiar grin reappeared, Naruto's sunny disposition returning just as quickly. "You got it." He rubbed the back of his head, backing out of the office.
Gaara watched his retreat, silently wary of where this left him in the game, what Naruto would try next, and how long he had before the next attempt. Surely this couldn't be the end of it. He listened carefully as he heard Naruto's footsteps down to the kitchen- he could hear the click of the refrigerator door opening, various glass bottles clinking and cupboards being opened. Naruto seemed to be really preparing for dinner, obviously pulling out dishes and utensils before the scrape of a chair against the wooden floor.
Gaara cringed a little. He hated when Naruto did that. But things seemed peaceable enough. Gaara tried to relax a little. He looked again at his report, all the while keeping an ear out for his troublesome roommate. He was rewarded when ten minutes later he heard footsteps down the hall, heading towards his office. Naruto stood in his doorway, pizza box in one hand, close enough for him to smell the olives and peppers and melted cheese. He took a bite from the slice in his other hand with apparent relish, face emphasizing just how delicious he thought it was. And because that wasn't confirmation enough, he let out a groan of pleasure as he chewed. "Man on MAN is this good. You sure you don't want any now? While the cheese is still hot?" Gaara could feel his annoyance meter rising rapidly.
Stay calm, stay calm, he chanted to himself. This will all go away soon. He shook his head, refusing to look Naruto in the eye. Naruto stepped forward, putting the pizza box on his desk. Gaara's eyes shot towards the box murderously, praying there weren't any papers underneath that soaking up the grease from the box. He tried to relax his shoulders, knowing Naruto would be watching. His roommate moved around the desk to stand behind him and stare over his shoulder.
"So how's the report going?" he asked between mouthfuls of pizza.
"It's going," he said tersely, trying to ignore the smell of tomato sauce and garlic wafting over from the box just a foot away. "Do you have to eat in here?" he asked a little coldly. "You're going to make a mess," he added a little hastily.
Naruto chuckled. "I got a little lonely so I thought I'd keep you company." He chewed noisily, smacking his lips and making all sorts of unnecessary noise. "This is really good by the way. I can see why you love it so much."
"That's great," Gaara replied. His calm once again slipping.
"Oh hey, you should have a bite," Naruto added thoughtfully. He stuck the half eaten slice in front of him. Gaara stared at is suspiciously, holding his body away from it. All it would take was yielding a few inches and Gaara would be able to take a bite. Naruto was virtually hand feeding him, which made him extra wary. Gaara's stomach growled, urging him to forget his pride and take the damn bite. But one look at Naruto- at the hint of amusement in his smiling eyes prevented him. Gaara turned his head away.
"No thanks, it's full of your cooties, as you would call it."
Naruto snorted, pizza still dangled in front of him. "Come on," he shoved the pizza in his face, rubbing the crust against his lips, "I know you want it. Just one bite." Gaara tried to ignore the food being shoved at him, but without the help of his hands it was difficult. "My cooties won't kill you." He sounded annoyed.
Gaara's resolve was renewed then. He knew without a doubt that this was simply one more ploy to humiliate him and Naruto must be annoyed by his failure to take the bait. If he could just resist long enough, Uzumaki had to concede defeat.
But he was hungry, and tired and his head was starting to hurt from the long hours of staring at a screen. That pizza smelled damn good.
"When you get a new slice, I'll take the first bite, deal?" None of that indirect kiss bullshit Naruto teased him about when they drank from the same glass before. He expected another quip from Naruto about his fear of cooties, or prissiness, or something, but surprisingly, Naruto didn't have any snooty comments for that one. He just nodded and finished the slice.
Gaara was aware of Naruto's every move as he walked around the desk to get the next slice. He didn't like the look on his roommate's face as he did so. This was not the carefree, easygoing Naruto from five minutes before. This man was intelligent, calculation, even slightly predatory. Gaara has the feeling this next move would be Naruto's last He was going in for the kill.
Naruto brought over a slice of the pizza. He held it up to Gaara's mouth just as had before. He didn't try to shove it between his lips or rub it against his face- he just held it calmly in front of him.
Gaara looked at Naruto warily, wandering what the trick was. But Naruto was quiet, smiling his old smile. Gaara opened his mouth, reaching forward to take a bite, but before he could reach, Naruto pulled the slice away.
Naruto burst out laughing as Gaara looked at him annoyed. "I'm sorry, I couldn't resist," he protested, "here, have a bite. I won't do it again." He brought the slice closer again, chuckles still dying down. And just as Gaara was about to take a bite, Naruto snatched it away once more. Naruto held his stomach as he tried to calm himself, trying to stifle the laughter ringing against the office walls.
"What the hell, Naruto?" Gaara couldn't stop himself. "If you're gonna keep fucking around then take your pizza and get the HELL out of my office!"
Naruto looked down at him and smiled. The predatory look was back.
Dammit, I fell for it.
"So you are human after all." He sat up on the desk, relaxed and smug even as he looked down.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Gaara asked a little too defensively. Warning bells were going off in his head. Naruto was dangerous when he got like this. He tried to avert his gaze, focusing on the cursor blinking on the screen.
"You know, the first time, it really was just a prank," he picked at the pizza, pulling off an olive slice. "Just a little good-natured humor," he swept it up with his tongue, grinning at him. Gaara snorted. Some of his friends didn't seem so good natured when the male stripper showed up at his birthday party, nor did his family seem happy when he opened a dildo for Christmas. Gaara glared daggers as Naruto slowly devoured the pizza one topping at a time. Good natured my ass. "But none of it ever seemed to bother you," Naruto fixed him with a questioning look. "You'd handle everything with cool, calm reasoning and clear up any misunderstandings. I searched and couldn't pick up a hint of you being bothered by them."
"And so you felt compelled to try harder?" Gaara asked.
"Of course! It was like a challenge begging me to try it! I had to find out what would make you snap! What would make you … seem to care." Naruto hopped off the desk. Fingers tugged him by the chin, forcing his eyes away from the computer. Gaara could feel the grease on his fingers. "I had to, because I can't stand it when you pretend not to."
Gaara was silent. He had never seen Naruto look so serious- pale eyebrows narrowed over those bright blue eyes. Part of him was concerned for his friend, wanting to apologize for causing him worry, but another part of him, the sensible part that was still aware that his thumbs were glued to the keyboard, wondered if this was another trick; an dramatic overreaction meant to freak him out or prey on his sympathies.
The later suspicion won out.
"And the only way to prove this is by driving me crazy?" He said it flippantly, knowing Naruto was only trying to justify his bad behavior, but Naruto tugged him forward, eyes staring him down with a heated look.
"Yes." He said almost angrily. "I had to be sure." The intensity in his eyes really was starting to freak him out. Gaara recognized that look. "I had to get under your skin, the way you get under mine."
Gaara's cheeks turned pink. He could feel the heat flooding his face. He had the feeling that Naruto wasn't talking about the time he cleaned up his art supplies or washed his lucky socks. He thought of the many trials Naruto had put him through and realized just what he had been testing him for.
Gay porn sites, male strippers, sex toys, suggestive passwords- Naruto was testing to see if he had any aversion to homosexuality, or perhaps he wanted signs and signals that would clue him in to Gaara's sexuality. His apathetic responses to everything had provided ambiguous answers. This is what Gaara imagined was driving Naruto insane.
"Are you gay?" Gaara blurted without preamble. "Because if that's what this is about, you can be assured that I won't turn homophobe on you. Girl or guy, you're still not fucking them on my couch."
Naruto stilled for a moment. He stared at Gaara before the corners of his mouth turned up and the first bubble escaped. Naruto clutched his stomach as his laughter exploded. He threw his head back, ignoring the look Gaara was giving him and not caring how crazy he seemed. Gaara sat quietly, irritated that he was still stuck and that Naruto seemed to be having such a grand time with all of this. A minute later, when the laughter finally died down, Naruto shook his head.
"You really are something else." He reached for the keyboard, fiddling near Gaara's hands. He heard something pop off and discovered that his hands were free. "Come on, let's unglue your thumbs." Naruto rose to his feet and put the forgotten pizza slice on top of the box. He left Gaara to stretch and headed towards the office door.
Gaara sat froze for a second, shocked at being somewhat free. He rose from his chair and stretched out his legs and arms. He looked at the pizza longingly, but left it where it was. Priorities first. "You're lucky I didn't try to tear myself free. I could have hurt myself."
Naruto snorted. "Please. If I had a dime for every time I glued myself to something.. A little nail polish remover will have you free in no time."
"Good, because as soon as I'm free…" Gaara was nearly behind Naruto, stepping out into the hallway."You'll what?" Naruto wheeled on him, pushing up against the wall. Gaara glared at him thinking Naruto was done playing with him, but apparently not. His wrist was being shoved above his head, the other wrist dragged along with it. Naruto's body pressed close enough that he could feel the other's body head through his suit.
"I'm locking you out of my office with the pizza inside," he smirked. Not the most terrifying threat, but Naruto had caught him unaware.
Naruto was eyeing him the way Gaara no doubt eyed the pizza earlier. "Then maybe I should keep you like this." Warm breath washed over him, the smell of pizza on his breath.
Gaara's cheeks felt warm again. His assessment of this situation had only been half correct. His roommate was not only gay, but attracted to him. Oh goody.
"Your breath reeks of garlic," he said, no longer comfortable with the current subject. Naruto startled, cheeks flushing a little in embarrassment. He released Gaara from his hold and headed towards the bathroom. He babbled the rest of the way, bringing up the time he glued his fingers together at school.
Gaara listened absently wondering how he had missed the signs, wondering how long Naruto had harbored these feelings without telling him; and now that he knew, how long until those pranks turned into advance. He admired Naruto's perseverance if not his approach, but friend or no friend, Gaara wasn't easy. He eyed the man in front of him from behind, trying to gauge how much he had underestimated his intelligence. He had a feeling that from now on, he would have to step up his own game. Naruto turned out to be one sly cat and Gaara had just been tagged as mouse.